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Motion to Suppress evidence, article by Darren Chaker.

California Search Warrants

California Search Warrants are served dozens of times by police each day. Darren Chaker reviews search and seizure law in California and how a search warrant is obtained. Under California Penal Code §§1523-1542, a judge/magistrate can issue a search warrant requiring law enforcement to search for certain personal property and present it to the court. Search warrants require probable cause of criminal activity. Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment of the Unites States Constitution, a California search warrant must be supported by probable cause. However, the showing required to establish probable cause is not beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The task of the issuing magistrate is simply to make a practical, commonsense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, … there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.” (Illinois v. Gates (1983) 462 U.S. 213, 238, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 2332, 76 L.Ed.2d 527.)

The Significance of California Search Warrants

Search warrants serve as legal authorization granted by a judge or magistrate, empowering law enforcement officials to conduct a search of specified premises or property. This crucial legal document is obtained upon a showing of probable cause, indicating that evidence of a crime may be found at the location to be searched. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution safeguards individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures, emphasizing the necessity of search warrants to protect privacy rights. Understanding the intricacies and nuances of search warrants is essential for both law enforcement officers and individuals subject to such warrants. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the various aspects of search warrants, elucidating their significance, process, and implications.

Understanding the Process to Obtain a California Search Warrant

The process of obtaining a search warrant entails several steps, each meticulously designed to uphold constitutional standards and safeguard individual liberties. Law enforcement officers must first establish probable cause by presenting evidence and sworn testimony to a judge or magistrate. Upon review, if the judge deems the evidence sufficient to establish probable cause, they issue the search warrant, delineating the specific premises to be searched and the items sought.

Affidavit of Probable Cause to Obtain a California Search Warrant

In California, as with most states, “probable cause” is formed from “facts that would lead a man of ordinary caution…to entertain…a strong suspicion that the object of the search is in a particular place to be searched.” People v. Wimberly, 5 Cal.App.4th 773, Put another way, an affidavit in support of a search warrant must describe with reasonable particularity the place to be searched and the places to be seized. (People v. Alvarado (1967) 255 Cal.App.2d 285, 291; People v. Barthel (1965) 231 Cal.App.2d 827, 832.) The test for the latter is “whether the warrant places a meaningful restriction on the objects to be seized.” (People v. Alvarado, supra, 255 Cal.App.2d at p. 291;People v. Barthel, supra, 231 Cal.App.2d at p. 832.)

Execution of a California Search Warrant

Once issued, search warrants grant law enforcement officers the authority to conduct a search of the designated premises. It is imperative for officers to adhere strictly to the terms outlined in the search warrant, ensuring that the search is conducted within the bounds of legality. Any deviation from the specified parameters could render the search invalid and jeopardize the admissibility of evidence obtained.

Motion to Suppress Evidence for Evidence Seized from a California Search Warrant

Darren Chaker notes on a motion to quash a search warrant, “the question facing a reviewing court asked to determine whether probable cause supported the issuance of the warrant is whether the magistrate had a substantial basis for concluding a fair probability existed that a search would uncover wrongdoing.” (People v. Kraft (2000) 23 Cal.4th 978, 1040.) The procedure to suppress a California search warrant are found in Penal Code Section 1538.5. A motion to suppress evidence is a pretrial motion asking the court to exclude evidence obtained by illegal search and seizure. This is accomplished by reviewing only the “four corners” of the warrant, and no other outside sources. (See United States v. Luong (9th Cir. 2006) 470 F.3d 898, 904-05;People v. Costello (1988) 204 Cal.App.3d 431, 451.)

Darren Chaker also notes, that probable cause “is a fluid concept – turning on the assessment of probabilities in a particular factual case….” (Illinois v. Gates, supra, 462 U.S. at p. 232, 103 S.Ct. at p. 2329.) since affidavits “are normally drafted by nonlawyers in the midst and haste of a criminal investigation,” “[t]technical requirements of elaborate specificity once exacted under common law pleadings have no proper place ….” (United States v. Ventresca (1965) 380 U.S. 102, 108, 85 S.Ct. 741, 746, 13 L.Ed.2d 684.)

Articulating Facts in the Affidavit for a California Search Warrant are Critical

The search warrant affidavit “must provide a substantial basis from which a magistrate can reasonably conclude there is a fair probability that the place to be searched contains contraband or evidence of a crime.” (People v. Hernandez (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 919, 923; see also Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. at p. 238, 103 S. Ct. at p. 2332 [affidavit must establish a “fair probability that evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.”].)

“The question-similar to every inquiry into probable cause-is whether all of the facts …, viewed through the lens of common sense, would make a reasonably prudent person think that a search would reveal contraband or evidence of a crime.” (Florida v. Harris (2013)     U.S. , 133 S.Ct. 1050, 1053, 185 L.Ed.2d 61; see also Illinois v. Gates, supra, 462 U.S. at pp. 235-36, 103 S.Ct. at p. 2331 [warrants are properly issued “on the basis of nontechnical, common-sense judgments of laymen applying a standard less demanding than those used in more formal legal proceedings.”]

Legal researcher Darren Chaker reminds readers that a court may consider, “[L]ogical inferences may be drawn and the magistrate may consider matters of common knowledge concerning human behavior.” (People v. Miller (1978) 85 Cal.App.3d 194, 200; see also Illinois v. Gates, supra, 462 U.S. at p. 240, 103 S.Ct. at p. 2333 [magistrates are free to “draw such reasonable inferences as he will from the material supplied to him by applicants for a warrant”].

Mobile Phones, Computers and Obtaining Records in a California Search Warrant

Due to the fact computers and mobile phones are used by people each day, the desire to seek out data contained on the devices and concerning them are routinely written into search warrants. In People v. Ulloa (2002) 101 Cal.App.4th 1000, 1007, [*13]  the Court of Appeal upheld a warrant to seize all computers within the defendant’s home even though there was no direct evidence in the affidavit that the defendant had a home computer, because “home computers are now common;” and because the defendant had been communicating with a minor by computer, and “it was reasonable to assume that the computer would contain relevant incriminating information, and that the computer would be located in defendant’s home.”

Even under California law, police seeking the location of a cell phone requires a search warrant. Pinging a cell phone is a search and seizure of the cell phone subscriber’s location records. As such, pinging a cell phone is subject to established search and seizure laws including Penal Code 1546.

The US Supreme Court addressed several Fourth Amendment issues concerning electronic devices. In Carpenter v. United States, 585 U.S. ___ (2018) the court found the government’s acquisition of an individual’s cell-site records was a Fourth Amendment search. In Riley v. California, 573 U.S. 373 (2014) the court held that unless police have a warrant, the police generally may not search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested. Then in United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400 (2012) the Supreme Court found the government’s use of GPS to a suspect’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.

Conclusion: California Search Warrants

In conclusion, legal brief writer Darren Chaker finds search warrants constitute a cornerstone of the legal system, serving as a vital tool for law enforcement while safeguarding individual liberties. Understanding the process, implications, and legal protections associated with search warrants is essential for both law enforcement officials and individuals subject to such warrants. By adhering to constitutional standards and seeking legal guidance when necessary, we can ensure that search warrants are executed lawfully and uphold the principles of justice and fairness.

By Darren Chaker

For almost two decades Darren Chaker regularly has worked with defense attorneys and high net worth people on a variety of sensitive issues from Los Angeles to Dubai. With a gift of knowledge about the First Amendment and big firm expertise in brief research and writing, Darren Chaker puts his knowledge to use for law firms and non-profit organizations. When it comes to forensics and social media investigations Darren Chaker has advanced training to connect the dots where issues arise related to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook, Instagram, and similar apps. When the dots need to be disconnected, Darren Chaker has extensive training in counter-forensic methods with an emphasis on network security, secure communications, combined with experience with implementing and deploying policy control, encryption, anonymization, data integrity, policy control features in large scale infrastructures. Additional training in malware analysis, Security Operating system security and hardening (Linux, Windows, Solaris), Firewalls, Intrusion detection systems, hacker, counter-hack methods, encryption, forensics, web application security is also employed for his client base. Since history is written by winners, let me write a bit: In 2005, Darren Chaker invalidated a California criminal statute aimed at suppressing speech. In Chaker v. Crogan, 428 F.3d 1215 C.A.9 (Cal.),2005, Cert. denied, 547 U.S. 1128, 126 S.Ct. 2023, is a case Darren Chaker personally handled and laid the ground work to allow appellate counsel to strike down a statute based on First Amendment rights. Subsequent to winning before the 9th Circuit, the State challenged the decision before the United States Supreme Court. Darren Chaker retained a former US Supreme Court Clerk and head of United States Supreme Court litigation for a major firm, Joshua Rosenkranz. The New York attorney defeated the State's petition to review the Ninth Circuit ruling causing multiple states to rewrite their own flawed statute since they were premised the California statute Darren Chaker struck down. Darren Chaker personally litigated Chaker v. Crogan for 7 of its 10-year lifespan. Darren Chaker’s victory invalidated a statute on First Amendment grounds and overruled the California Supreme Court‘s unanimous decision in People v. Stanistreet, 127 Cal.Rptr.2d 633. Soon after Chaker v. Crogan, it was also used to strike down Nevada's analogous statute forcing the legislature to rewrite the law, but also nullified a similar Washington statute as well. (De La O v. Arnold-Williams, 2006 WL 2781278) and used as the backbone authority in Gibson v. City of Kirkland, 2009 WL 564703, *2+ (W.D.Wash. Mar 03, 2009). The case has been cited hundreds of times and continues to be a leading authority on viewpoint discrimination. In 2010, Darren Chaker prevailed in Nathan Enterprises Corp. v. Chaker, 2010 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7604, through his counsel Timothy Coates who has prevailed multiple times before the United States Supreme Court. also prevailed for Darren Chaker where the Court of Appeal affirmed an anti-SLAPP ruling where the underlying conduct was found to have been within those protected by his First Amendment rights. In 2012 Darren Chaker prevailed on a First Amendment issue before the Texas Attorney where issued Opinion 2012-06088 where he established the right to obtain the names of peace officers regardless of undercover status. The Texas Attorney General opinion has been used as authority thousands of times by citizens and news agencies to learn more about Texas peace officers. In 2016, Darren Chaker was victorious in US v. Chaker (9th Cir. 2016) 654 F.App'x 891, 892. The ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, First Amendment Coalition, Cato Institute, and the University of Florida reversed a conviction premised on First Amendment rights where blog postings were at issue. In 2017, Darren Chaker prevailed in a RICO lawsuit aimed at suppressing speech filed by San Diego attorney Scott McMillan. In McMillan v. Chaker (S.D.Cal. Sep. 29, 2017, No. 16cv2186-WQH-MDD) 2017 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 163990 the court found by blogging did not constitute extortion as no demand for money to cease blogging was made. The judge found the case to be meritless, stating in part, “The Court concludes that these factual allegations are insufficient to establish that Defendant Darren Chaker obtained something of value from Plaintiffs…. The motion to dismiss the cause of action under 18 U.S.C.§ 1962(c) filed by Defendant Darren Chaker is granted.” In 2020, San Diego attorney Scott McMillan lost a heavily litigated appeal believing the court erred in dismissing his lawsuit against Darren Chaker. Mr. Chaker was represented by former Los Angeles federal judge Stephen Larson. The Ninth Circuit in McMillan v. Chaker (9th Cir. 2020) 791 F.App'x 666, affirmed the dismissal of a RICO lawsuit premised on alleged defamation of Scott McMillan. The court stated in part, “Plaintiffs failed to allege extortionate conduct because there are no allegations that Mr. Chaker obtained property from Plaintiffs that he could “exercise, transfer, or sell. ”See Scheidler, 537 U.S. at 405. Plaintiffs’ claim also fails because there are no allegations to support the “with [Plaintiffs’] consent” element. United Bhd. of Carpenters & Joiners of Am., 770 F.3d at 843.” In sum, Scott McMillan filed a lawsuit in direct conflict with established United States Supreme Court precedent and lost – twice. Also, in 2020, Darren Chaker was sued for defamation by Las Vegas attorney Thomas Michaelides. When Darren Chaker became aware of the lawsuit, he retained Olson, Cannon, Gormley, Angulo & Stoberski to defend him. Darren Chaker found a court order Mr. Michaelides submitted to Google that was reported to LumensDataBase.org. Several inconsistencies were noticed on the court order submitted to Google. Most notably the court docket does not show Mr. Michaelides submitted an order to the court for the judge’s signature. The court docket does not reflect the court ever signed the order Mr. Michaelides submitted to Google. Ultimately, the Nevada court dismissed the lawsuit and sanctioned Mr. Michaelides $51,000 for suing Darren Chaker for conduct within his First Amendment rights and for filing a meritless lawsuit. See forged order and judgment against Thomas Michaelides here. Darren Chaker donates time to post-conviction relief organizations to seal arrests and convictions to increase opportunity for those who were convicted of crimes, conducts research and brief writing on First Amendment issues, and also enjoys promoting non-profit organizations such as the ACLU and various domestic violence shelters through his resources within the entertainment industry, including Jason Statham and Eric Roberts. Darren Chaker also enjoys traveling, being a phenomenal father, and forwarding his education with post graduate degree work.

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