This is the next post in my series on the handling of Austin, Texas cases which involve drugs or other controlled substances. My last article discussed whether police are permitted to use a drug sniffing dog to search a vehicle. It is important to understand that the extent to which law enforcement may use a K9 is limited. If the police violate one’s rights then it may be possible to exclude any discovered narcotics from evidence. In this post I will discuss the possibility of challenging a search warrant which was based on information provided to police by a confidential informant. Such cases involve complicated legal issues and it is important that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you. If you or a loved one have been arrested then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
It is common for police to find narcotics in a home or vehicle through the execution of a search warrant. Such a warrant must be approved by a judge. The officer, when applying for the warrant, must provide the Court with information which shows “probable cause” to believe that the warrant will lead to the discovery of evidence. Officers sometimes use information, provided by confidential informants, as a basis for their warrant application. Such information, however, can only form the basis for a search warrant if the officer demonstrates that the informant is reliable. If a warrant is issued on the basis of unreliable information then it is possible to challenge the admission of any evidence found as a result of the warrant’s issuance.
The first step in challenging a search warrant is to file a motion with the court. An evidentiary hearing will then be held. Under Franks v. Delaware, the Court must consider a) whether an informant was “reliable” and b) whether the application would have supported issuing a warrant without the information provided by an informant. An informant will generally be considered “unreliable” if he or she provided information which was false, misleading, or if there are other reasons to doubt the informant’s credibility. Whether an informant is considered credible will always depend on the specific facts of a case. If the informant is found unreliable then the Court will review the warrant application solely on the basis of other information which was provided. If the Court finds that the warrant should not have been issued then any evidence found as a result of the search will be excluded from evidence. In drug-related cases this may lead to a dismissal of the charges.
Drug related cases, which involve confidential informants, often involve complex legal issues. How a given case is handled will depend on its specific facts. It is important to hire an attorney who is experienced in such matters. I have been practicing law since 1995 and I am Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
I also serve the cities of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.