A recent Illinois Supreme Court has made it easier for defendants to challenge the constitutionality of search warrants. People v. Chambers, which was decided by the Court in January, also held that the appearance of a confidential informant at a warrant hearing does not by itself mean that the defendant may not later be entitled to cross-examine the confidential defendant to determine whether the search warrant was legally obtained.
The Case of People v. Chambers
In Chambers, the defendant was arrested at his home in Markham with a large amount of illegal drugs, weapons and cash. The defendant did not contest the fact that he was in possession of this contraband, but took issue with how the police obtained the information that led to his arrest. A review of the record found numerous inconsistencies in the police officer’s story about how he obtained the information that led him to the arrest. The officer claimed that he learned of the defendant’s drug operation as a result of a months long operation, however, he was only employed by the Markham Police Department for a few days at the time of the defendant’s arrest. The police officer also claimed that he originally contacted the confidential informant in the course of a traffic stop at an address in Markham that doesn’t exist.
Defendant filed a motion for a Franks hearing to establish whether the police officer lied about certain information to obtain the warrant. This initial motion was denied by the trial court, as the defendant’s motion largely relied on affidavits from relatives. However, a later motion was supported by an affidavit from a man claiming to the be confidential informant who stated that he only provided information to the police officer who sought the warrant because he was threatened with a long prison sentence if he didn’t assist with the investigation.
The Illinois Supreme Court Holds That Confidential Informants Can Be Cross-Examined
Prosecutors argued against granting a Franks hearing on the basis that they would neither confirm nor deny the identity of the man claiming to be the confidential informant, as well as prior case law holding that a Franks hearing will not be granted when a confidential informant testifies at a warrant hearing. The Chambers court refused to accept this argument, as a “catch 22” that would prevent a court from considering valid evidence from a confidential informant about the legality of a warrant. And given the many other peculiarities about the warrant in this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the defendant is indeed entitled to a Franks hearing.
Need Legal Help?
Even if you’ve been charged with a crime, you still have constitutional rights. Police must obtain any evidence that prosecutors plan to use against you in court in a legal fashion. If you believe law enforcement violated you right to be free from unlawful search and seizure, you may have a case that can be appealed to the highest court in the state of Illinois. For more information, contact Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.