Terese J. Singer

Wisconsin Appeals Court Overturns Order Denying Motion to Suppress Marijuana Cultivation and Other Evidence

The Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District IV has ruled that a man’s motion to suppress drug and other evidence found on his property should have been granted. In an unpublished opinion, a police officer sought a search warrant to examine a 38.8-acre rural property for evidence of marijuana cultivation. Based on the officer’s sworn statement, a circuit court issued the warrant. When law enforcement officials executed the instrument, they allegedly uncovered guns, marijuana, and evidence related to a grow operation. As a result, the owner of the property was accused of manufacturing marijuana, illegally possessing a firearm, drug trafficking, and other charges.

Following his arrest, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence uncovered as a result of the search warrant. According to the defendant, the officer made several untrue statements in order to secure the warrant. Following a hearing, the trial court ruled that the defendant met his burden of proving the police officer demonstrated a reckless disregard for the truth in his application for the search warrant.

Instead of granting the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained using the search warrant, however, the court revised the allegations to remove the officer’s false statements and include the material information he omitted. The court then ruled that probable cause was established. Next, the trial court determined that officer did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights when he placed surveillance cameras on the defendant’s property without a warrant.

After the trial court denied his motion to suppress the evidence, the defendant entered a plea of no contest on two of the criminal charges and requested that the court revisit its decision to deny his motion. The court refused to reconsider its earlier ruling, and the defendant filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District IV.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the circuit court committed error when it concluded there was probable cause to search the acreage based on the revised allegations. After examining the facts of the case, the appellate court stated police lacked probable cause to conduct a search on the defendant’s property. In addition, the court said the evidence obtained through hidden camera surveillance also failed to establish probable cause to search the man’s land. As a result, the court ruled that the search violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful search and seizure.

Since law enforcement officials lacked probable cause to obtain a search warrant, the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District IV reversed the trial court’s order denying the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence found on the man’s property and remanded the case.

If you were accused of a drug offense in Wisconsin, you should contact an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible. To speak with a seasoned drug crimes attorney, contact the law offices of Reddin & Singer, LLP through our website or give us a call at 414-271-6400. Our caring Milwaukee criminal lawyers may also be reached by using our toll-free number at 888-357-9169.

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