In a recent criminal case near Jacksonville, Florida where the defendant was charged with marijuana manufacturing and cocaine possession charges, the case was ultimately thrown out because it was found that the police searched the defendant’s home and found the drugs based on an improper search warrant. In this case, the police received an anonymous tip that the defendant was growing marijuana and had a quantity of cocaine in his home. The tip also provided certain information about the defendant’s identity, home and place of employment. The police were able to confirm the details about the defendant’s identity, vehicle, home and job. However, the police did not corroborate any details that indicated the defendant was growing marijuana plants, had cocaine in his home or was actually doing anything illegal.
The police obtained a search warrant and found marijuana plants, fluorescent lights, a generator, digital scales, guns, cocaine and other drug paraphernalia in the home. The defendant was arrested for manufacturing marijuana, possession of cocaine and other charges.
The criminal defense lawyer was able to have the evidence of the drugs, guns and drug paraphernalia thrown out because the search warrant was improper. The police are allowed to search a person’s home for drugs or other evidence of a crime with a search warrant only if the search warrant is valid. A search warrant that is based on information in an anonymous tip is not valid if there is no indication that the police corroborated any of the incriminating information in the tip. It is not enough for the police to corroborate general, easily obtained information about the tip, such as a description of a person or vehicle, an address or a place of employment. The police have to actually corroborate some fact that indicates the suspect is committing a crime. Without that corroboration, the anonymous tip of illegal activity is not sufficiently reliable, and any search warrant based on that tip will be invalid.