Why is a search warrant so important? What do the police need to put in a search warrant to get into my house? How can the police search my house? What do the police need to tell a judge to get a search warrant?
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
The key to this decision is the police officers’ obligation to provide a full and complete description of the house they want to search in their affidavit in support of the search warrant they are requesting the court issue for a home.
In this case the police did not identify the specific house/apartment by apartment number, color of the door, numbers on the side of the house, the description of the apartment being between two different units in the application for a search warrant being reviewed by the court when the police were asking the court to issue a search warrant. here the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that there was not enough information for the trial court judge who issued the search warrant to rely upon when the search warrant was issued. Specifically in this case, the building identified in the search warrant request was a large apartment building with many units in it and the police did not describe the specific apartment unit number where the defendant was actually living . Although the police in another section of the affidavit identified that the apartment number where this defendant lived, the descriptive nature of the specific apartment was not provided to the trial judge in the affidavit request. This New Jersey Supreme Court found that that was not adequate enough for the trial judge to issue the search warrant of one specific apartment especially in a multi-unit apartment building.
The court addressed several different issues including,
A) good faith exception of the police, and
b) independent verification of the defendant’s actual residence via bills, mail check, and landlord verification.
The court stated the police’s failure to perform these independent address verifications which would have been used to support and reinforce the officer’s direct observations of where the defendant was coming and going from in this large apartment building with many units were fatal mistakes that caused the search warrant request to be invalid!
The court stated: Although police submitted a detailed warrant application that included information about Boone’s alleged drug-dealing in the general area, nothing in the application specified how police knew Boone lived in Unit 4A or why that unit — one of thirty units in the building — should be searched. Because the warrant affidavit failed to provide specific information as to why Boone’s apartment and not other units should be searched, the warrant application was deficient.