Saturday, January 23, 2010

POP and Probable Cause

I knew that's what those two Eureka cop cars were doing when I saw them driving south on E street yesterday, one behind the other. I saw the same two guys getting ready for another raid a few days ago in the parking lot of the Odd Fellows Hall on Buhne Street.

I've been wondering what kind of probable cause they're using to get these search warrants? Since so many of the arrested folks are already on probation, I guess it's a moot point. But what about some of the others? They always cite "numerous complaints" as the reason for going after these druggie houses, but surely a mere suggestion that there's drug activity somewhere isn't enough to get a search warrant? Or is it?


At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probable cause is when the facts and circumstances, being both reasonable and trustworthy, are sufficient to warrant the belief that a crime has been or is being committed. Probable cause is what would lead a person of reasonable caution and prudence to believe that a person, evidence, or contraband related to a crime is in a specific place at a specific time. In most cases of lawful search and seizure, a law enforcement officer must show probable cause to a judge in order to obtain a search warrant or an arrest warrant.

The fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that, "the right of the people [.] against unreasonable search and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath and affirmation." This right protects people from searches which are not preceded by probable cause. Probable cause, however, is not defined by the constitution and is subject to judicial interpretation. This means that a judge has final discretion over what does, and does not, constitute probable cause.

For a judge to issue a search warrant, probable cause must show that it is more than likely that a crime took place and specific items and people involved in the crime are likely to be found at a certain place at a certain time. Probable cause must be based on oath and affirmation, as stated in the constitution. Often an affidavit will provide probable cause that fulfills these requirements. An affidavit is a written statement made by police or private citizens under oath that establishes probable cause beyond suspicion.

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I know what probable cause it. I'm just not sure how it would apply here in regards "neighbor complaints". Are a bunch of neighbors saying there's drug activity just because there's people coming and going from the house all the time? Heck, I could get a search warrant for the Matteolis house across the street if you go by that criteria.

That's not to say drug activity is sometimes obvious. I've seen it in the past at the druggie house up the street. Just not sure how specific one has to be when making a complaint.

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most likely the cops surveilled the house for a while and picked off people that left the house. When they find them in possession of drugs (shocking) they provide them the opportunity to tell the nice policeman where they got it, like, that house they just watched them leave. Then their minor possession charge goes away. Get a few of those and you have your warrant. Especially if those living in the house have priors.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I suppose it could be something like that, but that risks of the people that get stopped getting word back to the targets of the investigation.

I was wondering how much judges will accept vague descriptions of drug activity as probably cause. I know I've seen stuff go on at the druggie house that was obviously drug related, but I don't think it would wash for a search warrant, or at least I'm not sure it should.

Well, your honor, there's just people going to the house all the time and leaving real fast. Obvious to me but I don't know that it should constitute probably cause.

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

worried fred?

At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Mr. Nice said...

Don't ask me how I know, but this is how it goes down:

The cops barter with a snitch. There are any number of ways to do this.

The snitch works their way into a position where they can cop from the target.

The snitch is sent with money, comes back with product.

This operation is documented and presented to a judge as probable cause for search warrant.

Cops raid the trap house.

Dope fiends caught in the trap house are generally not busted unless they happen to be the one the frantic dealer tries to hide the stash on which sometimes happens.

The snitch's identity is almost never disclosed unless the defendant can pinpoint a reason why revealing the snitch would help the defense. This helps cops to keep using snitches.


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