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Franks v. Delaware - 438 U.S. 154, 98 S. Ct. 2674 (1978)

Rule:

Where a defendant makes a substantial preliminary showing that a false statement knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, was included by an affiant in a search warrant affidavit, and if the allegedly false statement is necessary to the finding of probable cause, U.S. Const. amend. IV requires that a hearing be held at the defendant's request. In the event that at the hearing the allegation of perjury or reckless disregard is established by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence, and, with the affidavit's false material set to one side, the affidavit's remaining content is insufficient to establish probable cause, the search warrant must be voided and the fruits of the search excluded to the same extent as if probable cause was lacking on the face of the affidavit.

Facts:

Prior to his trial on rape and related charges in the Superior Court of Delaware, defendant sought to suppress clothing and a knife found on a search of his apartment that had been conducted pursuant to a warrant that was obtained upon the affidavit of the police. Although the motion to suppress had originally alleged that the warrant on its face did not show probable cause and that the search and seizure violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, it was amended at a hearing on the motion to include an attack on the veracity of the warrant affidavit, and a request was made to call certain witnesses to establish the alleged untruthful matters. The trial court sustained the state’s objection to the defendant’s going behind the warrant affidavit and denied the motion to suppress. After defendant was convicted at a trial at which evidence obtained on the challenged search was admitted, defendant appealed, and the Supreme Court of Delaware affirmed, holding that a defendant under no circumstances could challenge, subsequent to the ex parte issuance of a search warrant, the veracity of a sworn statement used by police to procure the search warrant. Defendant sought further review by the United States Supreme Court.

Issue:

Could a defendant challenge, subsequent to the ex parte issuance of a search warrant, the veracity of a sworn statement used by police to procure the search warrant?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the inclusion of the evidence under the warrant in petitioner's trial was not harmless error and that the Fourth Amendment and the derivative exclusionary rule applicable to the states allowed defendant to attack the veracity of the warrant's affidavit after the warrant had been issued and executed.

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