The Michigan Good Faith Exception to the Exclusionary Rule

The United States and Michigan Constitutions provide residents with certain rights. Among those is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. While a person’s right to be free from unreasonable searches varies somewhat depending on where they are located, there is no greater protection afforded to a person’s home. Indeed, under Michigan law, generally, “a search of a seizure within a home or its curtilage without a warrant is per se an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.”

Typically, when evidence is seized in violation of the state or federal constitution, it cannot be used at trial. This is referred to as the “exclusionary rule.” The exclusionary rule is meant to deter law enforcement from infringing upon the rights of citizens because, if they violate a person’s rights, any evidence obtained as a result of the conduct cannot be admitted. However, the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule allows for the admission of evidence that was illegally obtained if it was seized in reasonable, good-faith reliance on a warrant that was later determined to be invalid.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan drug bust case in which the defendant challenged the issuance of the search warrant that was obtained to search his home. Ultimately, the court concluded that the warrant was defective as issued, because it lacked critical information. However, the state’s good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule prevented the evidence from being suppressed.

According to the court’s opinion, the warrant lacked information indicating that the affiant personally witnessed any of the alleged drug transactions documents in the affidavit. The affidavit also lacked any basis to believe that the defendant lived at the home, or could be found there. At a motions hearing, the officer claimed to have witnessed everything contained in the affidavit.

The lower court determined that the warrant was fatally flawed in that it lacked the necessary information. However, the court found that there was no government misconduct present in the case. The court explained that this case involved a “poorly drafted affidavit,” rather than one that was deliberately misleading or fabricated. As a result, the court held that the warrant was executed in good faith, and that the exclusionary rule did not apply. Thus, the evidence seized during the search was not suppressible, and the defendant’s motion was denied.

Have You Been Arrested after Police Officers Searched Your Home or Car?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a Michigan drug case or gun offense, Michigan Defense Law can help. There are very strict rules that must be followed when police officers want to search your home, car, or place of business, and the failure to do so may result in any evidence that was obtained being inadmissible at trial. Attorney Paul J. Tafelski, the founder of Michigan Defense Law, is a dedicated criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of serious crimes, including drug distribution, weapons offenses, violent crimes, and theft crimes. Attorney Tafelski has over 20 years of experience helping his clients through the difficult, dangerous, and often confusing, criminal justice system. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 248-451-2200.

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