In a recent case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant appealed his conviction for possession of ammunition by a felon. On appeal, the defendant argued that the officer that came into his house and found the ammunition did not actually have the right to be in his home, and thus that the evidence should have been suppressed. Looking at the totality of the circumstances in the case, the court of appeals disagreed and affirmed the defendant’s conviction.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was charged with assault and battery after physically and verbally abusing his wife. He was arrested because of the charges, and his wife called the officers investigating the crime to let them know that the defendant had ammunition in their home. Because the defendant had previously been convicted of felonies, possession of ammunition was a violation of Virginia law.
The officer that spoke with the defendant’s wife obtained a search warrant and came to the couple’s home. The officer showed the wife his warrant, and the wife said that he could come in and search the house. The officer subsequently found a box of ammunition in the defendant’s closet, and the defendant was charged with possession of ammunition by a felon. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence of the ammunition, and the trial court denied his motion.
On appeal, the defendant challenged the lower court’s denial of his motion to suppress. Specifically, the defendant argued that the warrant was not specific enough with regards to what, exactly, the officer wanted to search. Because this element of particularity was missing from the warrant, said the defendant, the search was invalid and the evidence should have been suppressed.
The court of appeals examined the warrant and ultimately disagreed with the defendant. According to the court, the warrant put forward enough detail to make it valid and usable. The court noted that in the defendant’s argument, he did not cite any legal authority stating that the warrant had to have a specific detail about where the officers wanted to search.
In addition, said the court, the defendant’s wife validly consented to the search. Under settled law, if an individual that lives in the home to be searched consents to the search in question, that search is valid and does not require a warrant at all. Thus, even if the warrant was insufficient for whatever reason, the wife’s consent to the search was an additional factor that made the search valid under the circumstances.
The court thus denied the defendant’s appeal and affirmed the original convictions and sentences.
Have You Been Criminally Charged in the Commonwealth of Virginia?
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