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Exigent circumstances permit a drug search despite defective warrant – VA

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Dec 19, 2017 Exigent circumstances permit a drug search despite defective warrant – VA

Exigent circumstances permit a drug search despite defective warrant - VA

Exigent circumstances permit a drug search despite defective warrant – VA

Exigent circumstances permit a drug search despite a defective search warrant, says the Virginia Supreme Court. Virginia v. Campbell, __ Va. __ (Dec. 14, 2017). As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know about exigent circumstances all too well.

Exigent circumstances are an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s search warrant rule, says Fairfax criminal lawyer

In Campbell, a confidential informant — previously found reliable by the police — and independent police investigation found that Cambpell was preparing to cook up methamphatemine after acquiring enough Sudafed as his key ingredient. The prosecutor presented convincing testimony that such meth production has a high risk for causing explosion, which was enough for Campbell to find exigent circumstances for the warrantless entry into and search of Campbell’s property before he even started cooking any meth.

Campbell concludes that even if the search warrant obtained by the police before the entry into Campbell’s property was defective for not having been delivered in its entirety by the magistrate to the court clerk within thirty days of issuance, any search warrant defect does not diminish from the applicability of the exigent circumstance exception to the general rule that a search warrant is needed for police to search privately-owned real estate.

Fairfax criminal lawyer on items to consider in challenging the existence or not of exigent circumstances for a warrantless police search

A key starting point for a Virginia criminal defense lawyer to challenge the claim of exigent circumstances is the following from Campbell:

“In Verez , 230 Va. at 410-11, 337 S.E.2d at 753, we set forth a non-exclusive list of factors relevant to a determination of exigent circumstances: (1) the degree of urgency involved and the time required to get a warrant; (2) the officers’ reasonable belief that contraband is about to be removed or destroyed; (3) the possibility of danger to others, including police officers left to guard the site; (4) information that the possessors of the contraband are aware that the police may be on their trail; (5) whether the offense is serious, or involves violence; (6) whether officers reasonably believe the suspects are armed; (7) whether there is, at the time of entry, a clear showing of probable cause; (8) whether the officers have strong reason to believe the suspects are actually present in the premises; (9) the likelihood of escape if the suspects are not swiftly apprehended; and (10) the suspects’ recent entry into the premises after hot pursuit.”


Fairfax, Virginia, criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz repeatedly challenges police searches and seizures as part of his overall practice successfully defending thousands of criminal defendants since 1991. To discuss your case with Jon, please call 703-383-1100 for an appointment.

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