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Friends Were Not Unbiased, So Their Testimony Not Enough to Prove Informant Lied to Judge Who Issued Search Warrant

Search warrants are integral to many criminal cases, but the testimony used to secure a warrant must be truthful. A man's attempt to challenge a search warrant used against him, based on his claim that the information supplied to the court to secure the warrant was false, fell short because he did not have enough evidence from unbiased witnesses to support his argument. Supplying the partial alibi testimony of the man's two roommates and his girlfriend was insufficient, the Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled.

Search warrants are integral to many criminal cases, but the testimony used to secure a warrant must be truthful. A man's attempt to challenge a search warrant used against him, based on his claim that the information supplied to the court to secure the warrant was false, fell short because he did not have enough evidence from unbiased witnesses to support his argument. Supplying the partial alibi testimony of the man's two roommates and his girlfriend was insufficient, the Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled.

The crux of Cornelius Voss' drug case involved the events of Valentine's Day 2011. A confidential police informant told an officer that he bought 10 bags of marijuana from Voss on February 14, 2011. The officer and the informant went before a judge, and, based upon the information, the judge issued a search warrant. The police executed the search warrant and found a quantity of cannabis in Voss' home.

At trial, Voss asked the court to hold a special hearing regarding the information supplied by the informant in order to obtain the warrant, arguing that the informant was not truthful in his statement to the judge and, as a result, the warrant was improperly obtained. Voss claimed he was outside his home for most of the day in question, that he sold marijuana to no one on Valentine's Day, and that he had multiple witness affidavits to back up his assertions..

The trial court rejected the man's request. Affidavits attached to, and in support of, a search warrant have a presumption of validity. To invalidate that information, the accused person must show that the person testifying in the affidavit (in Voss' case, the police informant) has either intentionally lied or spoken with "reckless disregard for the truth." Three affidavits, one from Voss' girlfriend and two from Voss' roommates, were not persuasive enough to overcome the presumption of validity and clearly prove that the informant was lying.

On appeal, the Appellate Court agreed with the trial judge. Voss' only evidence consisted of testimonial statements by interested persons - his girlfriend and his roommates. He had no objective documentation, such as tickets or receipts, to back up his assertions regarding how he spent his day on February 14. Although this type of evidence is not mandatory in order to trigger the hearing Voss sought, it would have gone a long way toward bolstering the strength of his story and the supporting assertions of his friends.

Further weakening Voss' position was the fact that his statements and those of his girlfriend and roommates did not give him a complete alibi. Voss admitted to being home part of the day, and the girlfriend and roommates did not testify to being in Voss' immediate presence during all hours of February 14. The gaps in the coverage of time in Voss' claims were easily large enough to give him time to complete a drug transaction, the court determined.

Confidential informants are a common resource used by law enforcement, especially in drug-related cases. A confidential police informant, like any other witness, is required to provide only truthful information to the court. Using false information to obtain a warrant may invalidate certain evidence from use at trial. If you're facing a drug charge, having experienced attorneys on your side can be invaluable. Consult the DuPage County criminal defense attorneys at Martin & Kent to discuss your case. Our attorneys can help you with challenging the validity of a search warrant used against you, as well as with all other aspects of your defense.

Contact us online or by calling (888) 388-9151 to schedule your confidential initial consultation at no charge.

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