Where a defendant can show an actual subjective expectation of privacy in the place searched (or object seized) and that the expectation of privacy is one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable, the government must have a warrant supported by probable cause before executing a search. The guidelines for obtaining search warrants are found in both statutes and case law. The most important requirement is whether the police have probable cause.
Other, more technical, guidelines appear in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-33c. Upon the serving of a warrant, if the officer believes that the subject of the warrant is on the person, that officer may then search the person. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-33b. Get the information that you need on search warrants here.
Unlike federal courts, the Connecticut state Constitution does not allow for a good faith exception to the warrant requirement. If a warrant is facially defective, the evidence cannot be admitted under the “good faith” exception under State vs. Marsala, 216 Conn. 150 (1990).
Interfering with a search pursuant to a warrant is a very serious crime. Also, if you are found guilty of this crime, you could face up to one year in jail. You also face a $1,000 fine under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-33d. If you interfere with a deadly or dangerous weapon, the stakes then get even higher. You face up to ten years in jail and a $10,000 fine. These penalties exist according to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-33d. Destroying the object of the warrant either before, during, or after the search is also a crime. For this, you could face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-33e.
Searches of Homes
In order to search your home, without exigent circumstances, the police need a warrant supported by probable cause, and the warrant must be signed by a neutral and detached magistrate. See State vs. Browne, 104 Conn. App. 314, 340-41 (2007).
If the officers executing the warrant think that someone else is in the house and that the individual poses a danger, or if the officers believe there may be weapons in the areas immediately adjoining where the defendant is arrested, they may search those areas even if the warrant does not authorize it. In State vs. Williams, 110 Conn. App. 329 (2008), the Connecticut Appellate court held that where officers possess a reasonable belief that there is danger to those at the arrest scene, the officers may engage in a limited search of the individual posing a threat. The limited search is restricted to those areas where an individual could be hiding (e.g. cannot be in a drawer).
Officers may also legally search for weapons in areas immediately adjoining where the defendant is arrested, even if he has already been handcuffed. This exception is important because if the officer is lawfully present, anything they can observe in plain view, which is immediately recognizable as contraband (i.e. drugs or weapons) may be lawfully seized.
Searches of Someone Else’s Home
If you are arrested as a result of a warrant issued to search someone else’s home, the ability to suppress the search depends on your “expectation of privacy,” in that home. If you have an expectation of privacy for the area searched then you may in fact have standing to challenge the search. To have standing to suppress evidence seized in the search of someone else’s home, the defendant will have to show that they possessed an expectation of privacy in that home.
Some case law will do well to illustrate the issue of standing. In State vs. Riddick, 207 Conn. 323 (1988), the court ruled that a son or a daughter has a reasonable expectation of privacy in their parent’s home if they are staying there temporarily or living there. This also applies to grandchildren. In the Supreme Court case Minnesosta vs. Olson, 495 US 191 (1990), an overnight guest who did not have a key and was never alone in the home was nonetheless held to have standing to challenge his warrantless arrest, which occurred in someone else’s home.