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    Default Incident Reporting and Consent to Search…..

    Hello everyone. Tonight at our department training we were introduced to the new county-wide incident reports. While the majority of the report is pretty much straight forward, there is one section I have a question about…..

    On our reports we have to enter an Estimated Value of Property Lost/Saved and Estimated Value of Contents Lost/Saved. The reports, of course, can be used by insurance purposes. However, isn’t that opening the department and person making the report open for legal reasons since the report will be used for insurance claims? If the person making the report enters an incorrect value (basically the person making the report guesses the value saved and lost and gets it wrong, either to much or not enough) then how can that affect the report maker and department?

    Also, they are also making the officers on scene make out a “Consent to Search” form in which the owner of the property gives our fire investigator and Sheriff’s Department “permission” to come back on their property to conduct an investigation, if needed, once everyone leaves the scene. But once everyone has left the scene does that compromise the integrity of the fire scene? Another words how can you come back a day later to do an investigation and everything you find be admissible and you cannot prove that tampering has not occurred since the scene was abandoned after the fire?

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    Do you have a law firm or lawyer that represents the fire dept only?

    If not try contacting a law firm or legal office most of them give free consults

    let me know how you make out i will check back on this forum.

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    Two, seperate, great questions. Let me try to help.

    Dollar Loss- The way it was explained to me is that when I fill out the form on dollar loss/amount saved for the NIFRS report, the person making that report is not a real estate expert. Therefore that person is making a guess. The information on the sheet is an estimation, not an exact amount. If the insurance company is concerned with money (they always are) they will get an official estimate from an appraiser or some other means.

    I can tell you I have been way off base before in guessing dollar amounts and was told several times by several different insurance companies that they don't even pay attention to the dollar amount on our reports. They have their own scale of "replacement costs" and loss estimates. All they care about is how it started which will determine who they will go after for their money back. (faulty wiring=contractor, faulty appliance=manufacturer, arson=their client, etc)

    So.....to answer your question.....no, don't worry about it much. If you are still nervous and jerky about putting a dollar amount in, make note in the narrative that it was just a SWAG (scientific wild *** guess)

    Consent to search- As a fire investigator, you should always, always, always get permission in writing to come onto the property. Implied consent is when they call the fire department to put out their fire. They are "implying" the consent to put their fire out. When the FD is there, we are in control until it is considered "safe." This can be interpreted a lot of ways. Some departments leave a unit on scene to maintain control but that doesn't always fly either. The job of the fire department is to 1. put the fire out 2. determine cause and origin. (this is where it started, and this is how it started)

    Any good investigator would get permission in writing even if the FD is stil on scene, and each and every time they come back (if they leave) That way it covers your posterior for complications later, depending on what you find. All it does is say the owner gives us permission to find out what caused the fire. Once the investigator finds something criminal or suspects a "suspicious" cause or nature, he/she should stop immediately and get law enforcement involved.........Law enforcement should be involved from the beginning anyway and at least in my area, we have a great working relationship and work hand in hand together.

    Leaving the scene-- A FD can leave the scene in inclimate weather, darkness or because it is unsafe for whatever reason to be on scene. You would have to back that up with your reason for leaving. You can come back later after it gets light out, or whatever the reason you left has been corrected. (Really, the only reason you should leave before you do the investigation is either extreme outdoor weather, hazmat issues, or any other extreme hazard situation). This would have to be within a "reasonable time" to come back to investigate the fire. Such as coming back in the morning for daylight. A week after the fire would be an unreasonable time. Yes, evidence can spoil. Yes, it can be tampered with. If someone determines the scene is "suspicious in nature" and caused from an un-natural source, then it should be turned over to law enforcement and held in custody until it can be further investigated and the evidence taken. Evidence taken during this time is totally ok to use as long as the evidence rules are followed. (taken with a control sample, chain of custody, etc.)

    Basically, all you are doing is getting the owner's permission in writing. In some rare cases, if they don't want to give permission, I can get an "administrative warrant" to just do the investigation. This just lets me in to do the investigation. It's rare and it's always better to get a search warrant anyway. The moment I find something criminal in my investigation, I stop immediately and get a search warrant. That way my evidence I find is in pursuit of a criminal case and can be used to incriminate someone. (When it switches from finding the cause and origin of the fire to making a case for arson)

    So.....to answer your question, yes, you can leave and come back only in certain situations. You have to come back as soon as possible, not like a day or two later. The best rule of thumb is to do your investigation immediately after the fire is extinguished. If there is any hint at all of foul play, get law enforcement involved early to aviod screwing something up for an arson case later.

    hope this helps, sorry to be so long winded...
    I'm sure George can elighten you more too.
    Jason Knecht
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey View Post
    I'm sure George can elighten you more too.
    Thanks for the info. And as I was typing all of that out he came to mind. I hope he sees this to give his input.

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    No worries. He's like a demon, mention his name enough times and he comes running!!



    George? George??

    hehehe
    Jason Knecht
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    As far as dollar value, it is a stupid waste of time. First of all, the dollar figure is essentially an arbitrary figure that is pulled out of the butt of a person who has no training in the area. It is a totally unreliable figure. Ask someone what the purpose of it is. When they tell you that they want to track the property loss, ask them why. See if you can get a picture of the blank stare.

    You could write any number on that line and it will have no effect whatever on the insurance claim. The insurance co. has a responsibility to conduct an appraisal of the damages and pay what they owe under the policy. That figure on the fire report will never come into the equation. Never.

    Remember, the loss, as far as the ins. co. is concerned includes, the building, the contents, the loss of use and additional living expenses. These are fluid figures that may not be finalized for months. The loss will also be determined on what type of policy the insured has.

    But that is not going to stop the powers that be from asking for that figure. SO what to do? Talk to a local builder or insurance adjuster. There is a rule of thumb on a replacement cost per sq. ft. for each type of building. You can use this rule of thumb to approximate what the loss is.

    However, I still find this a monumental waste of time.

    As far as the consent to search, as we are seeing in another thread, (of which I have been accused of calling FF stupid because I am trying to educate them about this very subject) this subject is very complex. There is a myriad of case law on point on privacy rights. I'm going to hit some highlights here.

    1. The first and foremost issue that you have to know about a consent to search is that it has to informed consent. The form has to contain language so that the person signing it understands; he has the right to refuse to sign it and he has a right to revoke it at any time for any reason. If he refuses to sign it, no search can take place without a warrant. It has to be on the form and the person has to acknowledge it.

    2. The person has a right to an inventory of any items taken from the premises as a result of the search.

    3. It is a bad idea to continue the consent search if evidence of a crime is found. The courts will look favorably on a search where, once criminal evidence was located, a warrant was obtained.

    4. Do not confuse the integrity of the scene with the right to entry. It will be up to the investigators to prove that the evidence they found is sound. This really has nothing to do with the consent search and will only serve to confuse this discussion.

    5. It is imperative to remember that the person giving consent must have legal control over the property. For example, a landlord cannot give consent to search an occuppied apt. A business owner cannot give consent to search a briefcase in an employee's cubicle.

    6. If the owner takes measure to secure the property following the fire, it may affect the validity of the consent. For example, if the owner boards up the house after you leave, that may be considered a tacit revocation of the consent.

    7. That said, I think you guys obtaining the consent to search is also a waste of time. Part of the investigation that will be conducted into the origin will be an interview of the owner or responsible party. That is when the consent should be signed. Also, if the doors are locked or the place is boarded up, they are walking on shaky ground if they break into the building to conduct an investigation. Personally, I think it is lazy and irresponsible to ask you guys to do what should be done by the investigators.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinFFVFD View Post
    On our reports we have to enter an Estimated Value of Property Lost/Saved and Estimated Value of Contents Lost/Saved.
    Short answer: If you aren't formally trained in estimating damage, leave it blank.

    You can get the assessed value of the property for your jurisdiction's tax office. Estimating damage is significantly more difficult. Get to know the insurance adjusters who work in your area and get the name of the property owner's insurance company and policy number. Usually you can get credible damage estimates from one or the other of them.

    If you do add dollar losses to your reports, document where the estimates came from.

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinFFVFD View Post
    Also, they are also making the officers on scene make out a “Consent to Search” form in which the owner of the property gives our fire investigator and Sheriff’s Department “permission”...
    The problem with this theory is the idea of "making" them do this: The property owner is under no obligation whatsoever to sign any such document. It's always a good idea to get a written consent even when you don't need it but it's not something you can "make" your officers obtain.

    As you suggest, it's better to do your investigation with uninterrupted access to the scene. If the investigation is important, it needs to start immediately without any lapses in custody of the scene. That being said, if anybody is going to get a consent, it should be a trained investigator who ideally should be there before the FD leaves.

    Hopefully whatever plan your FD is trying to put in place is being closely coordinated with your jurisdiction's investigative authorities. If the FD's procedures don't work it they can pretty well ruin any investigation.
    Last edited by DeputyMarshal; 08-24-2007 at 09:32 AM.
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    Well in our county we have 2 investigators. One of then is our county fire coordinator, and sometimes he is not always available. The other one we have is actually an investigator from the sheriff’s department who is trained in fire investigation. We have the ability while on scene at anytime to ask dispatch to call the investigator out. I have no formal training in fire investigation, but my father was a fire investigator, and some of the things you guys touched on he did as well.

    Basically the way most of the people on the department figure $ amount to put on the report is one of two ways;

    1)Take a wild a** guess by standing there and looking at everything.
    2)Asking the owner how much they think their property cost.

    While we are on the subject of report writing, lemme ask yall this….

    On the “Alarm Type” section, it has four options:

    1)Residential
    2)Commercial
    3)Mobile
    4)Stationary

    I of course know what 1, 2, and 3 is, but what is “stationary”? I asked one of our captains last night and she said she had no idea, nut would find out.

    BTW, thanks a bunch for all of the info.

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    I'm with your Captain. Never heard of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinFFVFD View Post
    ….

    On the “Alarm Type” section, it has four options:

    1)Residential
    2)Commercial
    3)Mobile
    4)Stationary
    Could stationary be a street box?

    What is a mobile alarm? Do you respond to car alarms?
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenNFD1219 View Post
    Could stationary be a street box?

    What is a mobile alarm? Do you respond to car alarms?


    HAHA, I think it's the counties way of trying to sound all official and cool. But I guess a Mobile Alarm is like a car fire or anything “mobile” vehicle.

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    Two things:

    3. It is a bad idea to continue the consent search if evidence of a crime is found. The courts will look favorably on a search where, once criminal evidence was located, a warrant was obtained.
    Granted, I don't know much about AI work...but I'm gathering the LE side cannot be that far removed from "regular" street LE.
    Consent to search is just that, whether written or verbal. It may be revoked at any time, however, once something illegal has been found, the suspect cannot simply say "Oh, I didn't mean that area," after the fact and have the evidence discarded under the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine.
    As for obtaining a search warrant after the discovery of evidence in a consentual search, I see absolutely no reason for it.
    99% chance that any half-azz criminal is going to revoke the consent to search as soon as you find anything illegal, so after that point, yes, you will have to obtain a search warrant for continued searching. But to obtain a warrant for something you already found in a consentual search? As George himself said: "Waste of time."

    2) Nobody has discussed the "chain of custody"...the question was asked, but nobody answered it that I saw. Yes if the area is suspected to be a crime scene (arson), then personnel must be posted to ensure access control--securing the scene and logging in who enters and leaves, what times, and what their purpose was. Any evidence acquired from the scene must be properly inventoried and logged in to property. Every person who takes possession of the evidence must sign for it, and thus the "chain of custody" from discovery to the courtroom is established and maintained. If the "chain of custody" is not established or maintained and it cannot be accounted for at all times, then it is not admissible in a court, and any half-brained lawyer will move to exclude, and get his motion.
    This also includes ongoing investigation...you cannot start investigating a scene one day, then "call it quits", pack everyone up and go home, and then decide to go back out two days later. Anything discovered during that "two days later" continuation will be suspect as evidence (again--chain of custody--nobody was there to substantiate that no one entered or exited the property during those two days), and most likely be successfully motioned to exclude by a halfway competent defense.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

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    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    As for obtaining a search warrant after the discovery of evidence in a consentual search, I see absolutely no reason for it.
    The reason is clear: the law simply requires it.

    Once evidence of a crime is discovered in the course of either a permissible warrantless search or under an administrative warrant the search should stop immediately and a criminal search warrant obtained based on that evidence. That's right out of Fire Investgation 101.

    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    2) Nobody has discussed the "chain of custody"...the question was asked, but nobody answered it that I saw. Yes if the area is suspected to be a crime scene (arson), then personnel must be posted to ensure access control--securing the scene and logging in who enters and leaves, what times, and what their purpose was.
    Most importantly, a firefighter on "fire watch" sleeping in the brush truck out in front of the smouldering shell of a building doesn't constitute "securing the scene." Measures must be taken to either physically secure it from unauthorized access or monitor it continuously for same.

    Depending on the nature of the evidence found any lapse in the control of the scene before or during an investigation can seriously degrade its value in court.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinFFVFD View Post
    While we are on the subject of report writing, lemme ask yall this….

    On the “Alarm Type” section, it has four options:

    1)Residential
    2)Commercial
    3)Mobile
    4)Stationary
    Well judging by the other choices if 1 & 2 cover structures (obviously) and 3 is for vehicles, I would say 4 is a catch-all for any other inanimate "stationary" object such as a utility pole, bush, dumpster, etc etc...best guess i can come up with *shrugs*

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    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    Two things:


    Granted, I don't know much about AI work...but I'm gathering the LE side cannot be that far removed from "regular" street LE.
    Consent to search is just that, whether written or verbal. It may be revoked at any time, however, once something illegal has been found, the suspect cannot simply say "Oh, I didn't mean that area," after the fact and have the evidence discarded under the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine.
    As for obtaining a search warrant after the discovery of evidence in a consentual search, I see absolutely no reason for it.
    99% chance that any half-azz criminal is going to revoke the consent to search as soon as you find anything illegal, so after that point, yes, you will have to obtain a search warrant for continued searching. But to obtain a warrant for something you already found in a consentual search? As George himself said: "Waste of time."

    2) Nobody has discussed the "chain of custody"...the question was asked, but nobody answered it that I saw. Yes if the area is suspected to be a crime scene (arson), then personnel must be posted to ensure access control--securing the scene and logging in who enters and leaves, what times, and what their purpose was. Any evidence acquired from the scene must be properly inventoried and logged in to property. Every person who takes possession of the evidence must sign for it, and thus the "chain of custody" from discovery to the courtroom is established and maintained. If the "chain of custody" is not established or maintained and it cannot be accounted for at all times, then it is not admissible in a court, and any half-brained lawyer will move to exclude, and get his motion.
    This also includes ongoing investigation...you cannot start investigating a scene one day, then "call it quits", pack everyone up and go home, and then decide to go back out two days later. Anything discovered during that "two days later" continuation will be suspect as evidence (again--chain of custody--nobody was there to substantiate that no one entered or exited the property during those two days), and most likely be successfully motioned to exclude by a halfway competent defense.
    1. As I stated above, the evidence of a crime that is found pursuant to a consent to search is only part of the case. This isn't about wasting time or doing unnecessary work, it's about gathering ALL the evidence. It's standard practice in all fields of criminal investigation to obtain a search warrant once evidence of a crime is found under a consent search. That evidence is then used as probable cause for the issuance of the warrant.

    A warrantless search-even one conducted pursuant to a consent search-will be challenged in court and will be under great judicial scrutiny. However, rarely is a search warrant that was obtained with verifiable facts overturned. It's smart forensic work to get a warrant.

    It's also important to remember that the courts look at a person's home in a different light than all of the other locations. It is a higher standard.

    2. I didn't mention chain of custody because it is an involved subject that would probably only confuse the issue re: FF. Deputy Marshal is exactly right that things like keeping a hose line in the building to show the FD still has control of the scene is an urban myth. It does not establish chain of custody or scene security. The scene can be secured by law enforcement and each subsequent re-entry must be dealt with a new consent. The warrant will be good as long as law enforcement maintains actual control of the scene.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KnightnPBIArmor View Post
    Well judging by the other choices if 1 & 2 cover structures (obviously) and 3 is for vehicles, I would say 4 is a catch-all for any other inanimate "stationary" object such as a utility pole, bush, dumpster, etc etc...best guess i can come up with *shrugs*

    AH HA, that makes sense. Glad you came up with that. I bet thats what that is. Thanks!!!!

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    I have a question about search warrants…

    The only “Law” class I have taken was in my senior year of high school. Anyways, I know that for police departments concerning search warrants for (ex. Narcotics) can obtain a search warrant, but doesn’t the warrant have to list what the police are looking for and which parts of the house they can search????

    If you obtain a search warrant for a fire investigation for possible arson, how can you get the warrant to search the whole house and area around the house for evidence?

    I know this question may be 1000 miles into space, but I am kind of ignorant to the whole search warrant thing.

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    Anyways, I know that for police departments concerning search warrants for (ex. Narcotics) can obtain a search warrant, but doesn’t the warrant have to list what the police are looking for and which parts of the house they can search????
    Yes to both. You must list what items (not exactly by make, model, and serial number), i.e.--marijuana, cannabis plants, equipment for cultivation and harvesting of cannabis... that sorta thing. It's quite common to have an entire house listed for search, though...but you must be specific, for example: "123 Main St, a single family dwelling on the southeast corner of Main and Easy Streets, as well as the front and back yards of the property." In this case, vehicles on the property would not be covered, unless you specifically list them, a la "a 1992 Buick LeSabre California plate 1XJF001, belonging to...resident at 123 Main St." A blanket "any and all vehicles on the property at the time of execution" would almost certainly be shot down.

    The reason is clear: the law simply requires it.

    Once evidence of a crime is discovered in the course of either a permissible warrantless search or under an administrative warrant the search should stop immediately and a criminal search warrant obtained based on that evidence. That's right out of Fire Investgation 101.
    Sorry, didn't take Fire Investigation 101...but I did take plenty of Criminal Law, Evidentiary Law, Principles and Procedures of CJ, etc., in addition to the police academy, carried a 4.0 in major, and graduated #2 in my academy class.

    Yes, if you find evidence of a crime pursuant to a warrantless search, of course assuming that the crime is of sufficient gravity and complexity that further investigation would be required, you must obtain a search warrant to continue said investigation.
    What I was talking about, and I probably misread George's original post, was that it would be a waste of time to obtain a search warrant for a piece of evidence you already have pursuant to a consentual search. I thought that's what George was referencing, and seeing his reply it's a bit clearer what his meaning was originally.

    A warrantless search-even one conducted pursuant to a consent search-will be challenged in court and will be under great judicial scrutiny. However, rarely is a search warrant that was obtained with verifiable facts overturned. It's smart forensic work to get a warrant.

    It's also important to remember that the courts look at a person's home in a different light than all of the other locations. It is a higher standard.
    George--warrants are challenged too. All the time. Sad thing is if the PC that was used to develop the warrant is successfully challenged, the whole damn thing gets thrown out, along with any evidence obtained pursuant to that warrant, as "fruit of the poisonous tree"...but you already knew that.
    The simple fact is we're looking at this from two different sides of the equation. You and Marshal are looking at it from the "detective" standpoint, whereas I'm looking at it from the "beat cop" POV. If the street cops stopped and got a warrant every time they found a bag of meth and a glass pipe on some DUI driver they stopped...well, that's an administrative and judicial nightmare that nobody wants to contemplate. LOL
    Further, if a cop gets called to someone's house for whatever, DV, say...and the resident/victim invites the officer to the living room, and on the coffee table there's that same baggie of meth and pipe, does the officer say, "Oh, by the way, I'm going to detain you because I have reasonable suspicion that you possess methamphetamine and paraphrenalia, but I have to go get a search warrant for what's right before my eyes legally..."?? Yeah RIGHT. You hook and book em and if you want to search the rest of the house for more, then you go get the warrant.

    As for chain of custody....I agree entirely with both of you. It is a complex subject, but all the Street FF needs to know is: if there's suspicion of arson or another crime, contact LE, let them worry about chain of custody and securing the scene. If it's something that'll take a few days, they will make sure to arrange for someone to be there to watch the place. I agree that having an FF sleepin in the utility/brush truck isn't adequate and will get the case flung right out of court.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

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    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    Yes, if you find evidence of a crime pursuant to a warrantless search, of course assuming that the crime is of sufficient gravity and complexity that further investigation would be required, you must obtain a search warrant to continue said investigation.
    ...and any non-trivial arson is virtually always "of sufficient gravity and complexity" that further investigation is required.

    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    looking at it from the "detective" standpoint, whereas I'm looking at it from the "beat cop" POV.
    The detective vs beat cop POV doesn't really exist in the FD. Detectives and "beat cops" are both still primarily trained LEOs. Firefighters are seldom trained fire investigators. Essentially all a "beat firefighter" needs to know is that, if s/he runs across anything that suggests arson, s/he shouldn't touch it and should promptly notify the local fire investigation office. A fire investigator doing a warrantless search or administrative warrant search, OTOH, is already operating in the same mode as a detective.
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    Marshal: You bring good points. And actually, if you look at even costs of suppression of human-caused wildfires, even if there are no deaths or "property loss" involved, then no arson is "trivial".
    You're also right about the "beat FF" thing...I think we can both agree that all they need to know is how to recognize signs of potential arson and to call in the LE agency having jurisdiction as well as their own fire investigators.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

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    I've applied for hundreds of search warrants in my career. You are exactly right. The sworn affidavit must include;

    1. Qualifications of the applicant
    2. Detailed account of the probable cause
    3. A complete description of the property to be searched
    4. Evidence to be searched for
    5. Why the applicant believes the evidence is on the premises.

    1. This demonstrates to the judge that the applicant has sufficient knowledge to interpret the information and establish the probable cause.

    2. Explains to the judge the investigative activity and how the information developed in the investigation fits together to establish the probable cause. This is liable to be a lengthy section. If you leave any information out, it is difficult to get the judge to consider it since it won't be on the record. It is interesting to note that in exigent cases, the affidavit can be done orally or even over the phone. This is rare, due to the obvious potential for abuse. I've never done it.

    Evidence uncovered in a consent search or plain view will be used to help establish PC.

    3. Theis section is in place to make sure that the applicant clearly understands what property is to be searched. This section may include a photo of the property, as well as a legal description and a physical description. This section will also include which particular areas of the building are to be searched. It may be one apartment or one office. It may be a secured container inside a vehicle. The judge will limit the area to be searched if sufficient articulation of reasoning as to why a broader search is needed is not provided.

    4. This section is to prevent a fishing expedition. However, it can also be surprisingly broad-especially in a fire investigation. For example, I would typically ask for permission to search for obvious things such as accelerant containers, components of incendiary devices, evidence of the remains of an accelerant, books and manuals on setting fires, etc. But I may also ask to search for things like; clothing worn by an arsonist, permission to use a K9, computer records, office files, info off caller ID or voice mail, etc. It all depends on the particular facts of the case.

    5. This section is largely a statement that the applicant has participated in the investigation, has sufficient qualifications to make the application, has knowledge and belief of the information, has reason to believe that evidence of a crime exists in the property based on the PC and requests judicial sanction to conduct the search.

    The judge will evaluate the PC, will make the applicant swear to the information in the affidavit, make any adjustments to the warrent and then either issue the warrant or deny the application. The search can begin as soon as the warrant is signed. I have had situations where I had to drive a good distance to the judge's house. I could then advise the team at the scene via radio that the warrant was signed and they could begin the search.

    It is important to note that the process of applying for a warrant can take several hours. In my case, the Arson Unit prosecutor (or on call prosecutor) would come out and meet me, evaluate the information and help me prepare the affidavit. There were revisions and a couple of levels of review. Then we had to find the judge and meet him for a signature. Depending on the complexity of the case, this process could take 2-6 hours.

    The warrant could not be executed willy-nilly. There had to be careful documentation. Sometimes the waeeant had to be amended. I was conducting a warrant on a premises where we were going to arrest the occupant for a vehicle arson. We had a search warrant containing authorization to search for items pertaining to the arson. When we executed, we found a large quantity of cocaine and evidence of distribution. The arrest was madem but the search warrant was delayed to allow us to amend the affidavit to include the PC for the cocaine.

    It seems like an unnecessary and tedious process. But the object of the process is to protect the privacy rights of the individual. Think about how you would feel if you were the subject of an investigation. You would want all the protections guaranteed by the constitution as well.

  22. #22
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    George--warrants are challenged too. All the time.
    No question. But that is the reason why you go to the judge. The courts are far less likely to overturn a search pursuant to a warrant issued by a judge than they are a warrantless earch. In fact, we did not go to a municipal court judge for our search warrants. We always went to a Superior Court judge. The higher the judge, the less likely the warrant would be overturned.

    A street cop may face an entirely different set of circumstances. There are plenty of reasons to conduct a warrantless search on the road; search incidental to arrest, search of the area within the immediate control, furitive movements, etc. But these searches are limited in scope and are usually designed to protect the safety of the officer as opposed to gathering criminal evidence.

    One of the problems with a street cop's search warrant affidavits can be "stretching the truth". I have read affidavits where the articulated PC was something like' "I was traveling eastbound on Iwhatever and observed the subject vehicle pass me in the west bound lane. Speed was approximately 70 MPH. As he passed, I smelled the aroma of a burning marijuana cigarette". Or the infamous observation of "residue". Stretching the truth will almost certainly result in the search being thrown out.

    But I think you would agree that the percentage of warrants that are succesfully challenged is very, very small.

  23. #23
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    One of the problems with a street cop's search warrant affidavits can be "stretching the truth". I have read affidavits where the articulated PC was something like' "I was traveling eastbound on Iwhatever and observed the subject vehicle pass me in the west bound lane. Speed was approximately 70 MPH. As he passed, I smelled the aroma of a burning marijuana cigarette".
    LMFAO, that's just funny, George. Sad thing is, I've known guys who'd probably try that one....

    Back to the serious subject, though, you're absolutely right on every point you brought.
    It's not so simple as just running to the judge and goin "Hey, I think here there be arson," and he signs you a carte blanche warrant to search everything the guy ever owned. Well, maybe on CSI or Navy NCIS (anybody ever realize that the N in NCIS stands for "Naval", making "Navy" redundant??)...
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

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