Can Failing To Disclose Information In A Search Warrant Toss A Case?
The search warrant is a valuable tool for law enforcement. Before a Court can authorize officers to search property, a judge must find that there exists probable cause of a crime having been committed. In Gerth v. State, the Indiana Court Of Appeals held that law enforcement did not include enough information for probable cause to have existed. As a result, Gerth’s convictions for dealing in marijuana, a Class C felony, and maintaining a common nuisance, a Class D felony, were both reversed.
In the case, an officer received information from a confidential informant that David Gerth was selling marijuana at his house, but that CI was “deactivated” because he had not completed all of the obligations required of him before his case was adjudicated. A month later, the officer received another anonymous tip through (presumably a second confidential informant’s) email that Gerth was dealing marijuana and the police obtained a search warrant. The search revealed marijuana on the premises as well as marijuana growing equipment.
The Court of Appeals court said the probable cause affidavit did not contain enough information – nothing that the CI was deactivated and nothing establishing the credibility of the two confidential informants. The Court noted that two informants who corroborate each other’s’ stories can be taken as credible, but only if one of them has established credibility. Neither did here. As a result, the convictions were reversed.
The Court’s Opinion can be found here.