[W]hen the Fourth Amendment demands a factual showing sufficient to comprise `probable cause,’ the obvious assumption is that there will be a truthful showing” (emphasis in original). This does not mean “truthful” in the sense that every fact recited in the warrant affidavit is necessarily correct, for probable cause may be founded upon hearsay and upon information received from informants, as well as upon information within the affiant’s own knowledge that sometimes must be garnered hastily. But surely it is to be “truthful” in the sense that the information put forth is believed or appropriately accepted by the affiant as true.
Justice Blackmun, in Franks v. Delaware, quoting Judge Frankel in US v. Halsey. Franks, of course, permits a defendant to challenge the veracity of the statements in a search warrant. If he makes a substantial showing that the affidavit contains intentional falsehoods or material omissions, then he gets an evidentiary hearing to prove..umm..that there are falsehood or misrepresentations or omissions in the affidavit.
But Franks applies only to search warrants. What of the scenario where the officer intentionally lies to get a judge to sign a warrant for an arrest? There has to be judicial review of an arrest warrant and a finding of probable cause. But since we know officers lie, what if an officer lied to get a person arrested? Is there any remedy for that? I’ve been asked this question more than a few times over the last month and was a topic of discussion on the local listserve today, so I figure it’s about time I write a post on it.
There is a remedy, sort of. It’s more of a hollow remedy. In State v. Dolphin, the Connecticut supreme court, without explicitly stating so, applied the Franks analysis to an arrest warrant. As with the search warrant, a defendant attacking the validity of an arrest warrant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the falsehoods contained in the warrant, or the material omissions would defeat probable cause:
When reviewing whether a Franks hearing is warranted, we recognize that there is a “longstanding rule that there is an underlying presumption of validity with respect to the affidavit supporting a warrant.” State v. Dolphin, 195 Conn. 444, 457 (1985). In order for a defendant to challenge the truthfulness of an affidavit underlying a warrant at a Franks hearing, he must: (1) make a “substantial preliminary showing that a false statement knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, was included by the affiant in the warrant affidavit”; and (2) show that the allegedly false statement is necessary to a finding of probable cause. Franks v. Delaware, supra, 155-56. If the allegedly false statement is set aside, however, and there remains sufficient evidence to establish probable cause, a Franks hearing is not necessary. Id., 171-72. Although the Franks decision referred only to false statements in the affidavit, we have held that “material omissions from such an affidavit also fall within the rule….” State v. Stepney, 191 Conn. 233, 238 (1984).
State v. Bergin. So let us assume that there is, indeed, a material omission. A court finds that the warrant, with the material omitted, would not sustain a finding of probable cause. Then what? One could argue logically that when a search warrant is invalid, the fruits of the search are suppressed. If an arrest warrant is invalid, the arrest should be invalidated. But wait:
The relationship between an illegal arrest and a subsequent prosecution under federal constitutional law is well settled. In an unbroken line of cases dating back to 1886, the federal rule has been that an illegal arrest will not bar a subsequent prosecution or void a resulting conviction. United States v. Crews, 445 U.S. 463, 474 (1980); Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 119 (1975); United States v. Blue, 384 U.S. 251, 255 (1966); Frisbie v. Collins, 342 U.S. 519, 522 (1952); Ker v. Illinois, 119 U.S. 436, 440 (1886).
State v. Fleming. An illegal arrest does not stop a prosecution nor does it void a conviction. The argument, it seems, is that you’ve committed the crime if you’ve committed the crime and any illegality in actually initiating the prosecution shouldn’t enable you to go scot-free. What does it get you, then? A Franks violation in an arrest warrant gets you a suppression of the fruits of that illegal arrest: a confession, items seized, etc. But it doesn’t change the fact that you have been accused and thus can be prosecuted for the crime.
A Franks violation in an affidavit supporting an arrest warrant does not entitle a defendant to the dismissal of the charges for which he was arrested. Such a violation may require the suppression of evidence or statements obtained as a result of the execution of the warrant but it does not deprive the court of jurisdiction nor does it bar a subsequent prosecution or void a resulting conviction. United States v. Crews, 445 U.S. 463, 474 (1980); Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 119 (1975); United States v. Blue, 384 U.S. 251, 255 (1966); Frisbie v. Collins, 342 U.S. 519, 522 (1952); Ker v. Illinois, 119 U.S. 436, 440 (1886).
State v. Patterson. This, of course, assumes that there are “fruits” of the illegal arrest. What of the case where there are none? You can easily imagine the scenario where the omission of potentially exculpatory information permits the State to obtain a warrant for the arrest of an individual, thus initiating the criminal prosecution. After that, it’s their decision whether to pursue the charges or not and that power essentially entitles the State to force the defendant to a trial, at expense to himself or to the State, through the office of the public defender.
A Constitutional violation caused by the improper acts of the agents of the State having been established, the jurisprudence in this area provides for no real remedy whatsoever. This is a glaring hole in Constitutional caselaw that can be exploited to harass, threaten and otherwise ruin perfectly innocent people. To acknowledge on one hand that the State has engaged in illegal activity and yet on the other permit the same State to continue to reap the benefit of that illegal activity and to force the defendant to risk a trial or accept a compromise deal vitiates Due Process in the worst way. I have not been able to find a mechanism by which the prosecution itself can be dismissed where a warrant has been found to have been obtained by illegal means. Do you know of any?