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Criminal Procedure Outline - Professor Fields - Campbell Law - Part 2

By Miller Moreau
Professor Fields - 2021

Download the PDF version of this outline

<< Part 1 | Part 3 >>

g. Probable Cause and Search Warrant Requirements

  1. Probable Cause Requirements
    1. Particular Information: Spinelli v. US (confidential informant gave tip that he was a bookmaker and gambler) A confidential informant’s tip here is insufficient probable cause to support a search warrant
      1. Aguilar-Spinelli Test:
        1. Basis of Knowledge: How did informant get the info?
        2. Veracity Prong: Why should I believe this person?
          1. Credibility of the information
          2. Reliability of the information
            **this case is overruled
    2. Totality of the Circumstances Illinois v. Gates (anonymous letter that couple selling drugs in Florida) **Overrules Spinelli
      1. Applies Totality of the Circumstances Test: Did the magistrate have a substantial basis for concluding that probable cause existed based on the totality of the circumstances?
        1. Allows magistrate to consider seemingly innocent conduct in context
        2. Fact that they later found drugs doesn’t support probable cause
        3. Probable cause analysis very fact specific
    3. Individualized Suspicion and Common Enterprise
      1. Maryland v. Pringle (stops car w/3 people in it, finds cocaine, arrests all 3)
        1. Court applies totality of the circumstances test (time of day, cash in car, location of cocaine, men failed to offer info)
        2. Holding: a reasonable officer could have concluded there was probable cause to believe Pringle committed possession
        3. Seemingly innocent conduct can add up to probable cause
      2. Probable Cause in Action: DC v. Wesby (abandoned house w/party inside) – was there sufficient probable cause to arrest these individuals for unlawful entry?
        1. Holding: yes – under totality of the circumstances, a reasonable officer could disbelieve the claim of innocent entry and infer that they knew or should have known that they didn’t have permission to be in the house
          1. Basis for arrest: unlawful entry
          2. Standard: knew or should’ve known entered w/o permission
            1. Probable cause: condition of house, conduct of partygoers, reaction to police, evasive answers
            2. But this could all be explained innocently
          3. Key question for probable cause: whether a reasonable officer could conclude – considering all of the surrounding circumstances, including the plausibility of the explanation itself – that there was a substantial chance of criminal activity
          4. Probable cause = low bar
          5. Wesby & Gates: innocent behavior can add up to equal probable cause
  2. Executing Warrants
    1. Particular Description Requirement/Reasonableness in Execution
      1. Maryland v. Garrison (valid search warrant for 3rd floor but didn’t know it was 2 apartments)
        1. Did the factual mistake invalidate the warrant?
          1. Place to be searched must be described in the warrant with sufficient clarity that the officer executing it can identify it with reasonable effort – doesn’t have to be perfect and based on info known at the time presented to magistrate
          2. If a mistake is made in executing a warrant, the Court will allow the evidence to be used if the law enforcement mistake was objectively understandable and reasonable
          3. Questions to ask:
            1. Is it particularly descriptive?
            2. Was it executed in the right way? (here, yes & yes)
            3. Look at what a reasonable officer would’ve done
      2. Richards v. Wisconsin (had search warrant, magistrate wouldn’t give a no-knock warrant, officers undercover and not undercover, knocked but didn’t wait)
        1. Issue: whether the 4th am warrant requirement requires officer to knock-and-announce prior to executing a warrant?
        2. Holding: yes, police must knock-and-announce but there’s an exception –
          1. To justify no-knock entry, police must have a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing would be dangerous or futile, or that it would inhibit the effective investigation by, for example, allowing the destruction of evidence
          2. Or get a no-knock warrant
          3. Exigent circumstances = reasonable

h. Arrest (Seizure) Warrants – When do you need them?

  1. Felonies in Public: US v. Watson (informant told inspector would furnish stolen credit cards at next public meeting, inspector arrested after getting signal)
    1. Issue: whether the police may make a public arrest w/o a warrant or an exigent circumstance based solely on probable cause
    2. Holding: yes – police may arrest an individual in public w/o a warrant or w/o exigent circumstance if there is probable cause
      1. Defer to congress (congress made it legal for postal officers to do this)
      2. Common law allowed
      3. Officer doesn’t have to see the crime if it is a felony
        1. Powell concurrence: needs to explain why less protection for warrantless seizure
        2. Marshall dissent: there was an exigent circumstance here, police can get a warrant and sit on it until the timing is right for arrest (back pocket warrants)
      4. Rule: post Watson, a warrant is not necessary for a police officer to make an arrest in a public place so long as he has probable cause to believe a felony has been committed
  2. Felonies in Home: Payton v. NY (developed probable cause to believe murder, went to arrest him and broke into home w/crowbar – no warrant / armed robbery and arrested in home when they came in and found drugs)
    1. Issue: whether the 4th am forbids a warrantless arrest in the home, even if supported by probable cause
    2. Holding: yes – to arrest an individual in his home, probable cause is not enough; instead, must have a warrant or an exigent circumstance
      1. Running into house = exigent circumstance
      2. Police can create the exigent circumstance by chasing you into the house
    3. Rule: need an arrest warrant (or exigent circumstances) for arrests in the home
  3. Misdemeanors in Public: Atwater v. City of Lago Vista (didn’t have seatbelts on – arrested her)
    1. Issue: whether the 4th am forbids a warrantless arrest for a minor criminal offense, such as a misdemeanor
      1. Holding: no – probable cause standard, allowing a warrantless arrest, applies to all arrests
      2. If an officer has probable cause to believe that an individual has committed even a minor criminal offense in his presence, the officer may, w/o violating the 4th am, arrest the offender
    2. Arrests in public vs. home
      1. Warrantless arrests in public (Watson and Atwater): police can make a public arrest based only on probable cause
      2. Warrantless arrest in the home (Payton): police cannot arrest individuals in the home based on probable cause alone, need either a warrant or an exigent circumstance
  4. Pretextual Warrantless “Seizures”: Whren v. US (saw driver stop too long at traffic signal and looking down at passenger’s lap)
    1. Issue: whether an arrest or other 4th am seizure, such as a traffic stop, made on probable cause may nonetheless be “unreasonable” because of the officer’s subjective motives
      1. Officer’s subjective intent is irrelevant
      2. So long as a traffic stop is supported by probable cause that a traffic violation has occurred, the seizure (traffic stop) is lawful under the 4th am, regardless of officer’s ulterior motives
      3. **this case is not limited to traffic stops
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