A search warrant is one of the main tools that police have in obtaining evidence. Last week , a Robertson County , Tennessee man had his animal cruelty charge dismissed by the assistant district attorney. The reason was that the judge ruled that the search warrant was not legally valid.
The search warrant was signed by an employee of the Humane Society of the United States. Rule 41 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a magistrate must endorse the search warrant.
In the Robertson County , Tn. criminal case , members of the local humane society signed the search warrant. The issuance and the execution of the search warrant was in violation of Tennessee’s search and seizure laws. The trial judge had no choice but to suppress all evidence of the illegal search. Ultimately , the assistant district attorney had no choice but to dismiss the animal cruelty charges.
The lesson for criminal defense attorneys and those charged with a crime via a search warrant is always look at the search warrant. One technical defect may lead to a search warrant being illegal. In all cases , the devil is in the details. My criminal law tip of the day is to review Rule 41 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure and make sure the search warrant compiles with the rule.