Lindell Law Offices, PLLC
4409 California Ave SW Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98116
Attorney at Law
SEARCH and SEIZURE
How the Fourth Amendment Protects You:
Search of your home or car without a search warrant:
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 7 of our State Constitution protect us all by excluding evidence taken by police in an unlawful search or seizure. Searches made by the police without a search warrant are presumed to be unconstitutional. State v. Parker, 139 Wn.2d 486, 987 P.2d 73 (1999); and see, State v. Mendez, 137 Wn.2d 208, 217, 670 P.2d 722 (1999). Exceptions to the requirement that a search warrant be issued before the police begin a search are limited and narrowly drawn. The prosecution bears a heavy burden to prove that warrantless searches fall within a recognized exception to the rule. Our courts have advised that, "[a] person's home has generally been viewed as the area most strongly protected by the constitution," State v. Ross, 141 Wn.2d 304, 312, 4 P.3d 130 (2000), but that the right to be free from unreasonable governmental intrusions into one’s private affairs encompasses automobiles and their contents. State v. Parker, 139 Wn. 2d 486, 987 P. 2d 73 (1999).
Search of your home or car under authority of a search warrant:
A search warrant can only be issued after an independent judge or magistrate finds probable cause exists that justify issuance of a search warrant. Although generally a magistrate's prior determination of probably cause in issuing a warrant is given deference, such deference is not without limits. See, State v. Maxwell, 114 Wn.2d 761, 770, 791 P.2d 222 (1990); see also, State v. White, 44 Wn. App. 215, 218, 720 P. 2d 873 (1986).
Probable cause exists when the affidavit in support of the search warrant sets forth facts sufficient for a reasonable person to conclude that the accused is probably involved in criminal activity and that evidence of the crime can be found at the place to be searched. State v. Thein, 138 Wn.2d 133, 140, 977 P.2d 582 (1999); State v. Dalton, 73 Wn. App. 132, 136, 868 P.2d 873 (1994). Information contained within the affidavit for probable cause must be founded in fact, and mere belief or suspicion are insufficient to support issuance of a warrant. See, State v. Dalton, 73 Wn. App. at 136.