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Future crime warrant: Police can legally search homes before crimes occur

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A future crime warrant in the state of Texas has been ruled legal by a judge at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Raw Story reports Dec. 18 that law enforcement can obtain a search warrant based on a prediction that a crime is about to happen.

“Search warrants may now be based on predictions of the commission of future crimes,” the judge said.

This ruling was the result of a 2010 case in which Parker County police took Michael Fred Wehrenberg and some associates into custody after keeping his home under surveillance for about a month on suspicion on drug activity. Authorities relied on a confidential informant to give them valuable information. When the informant told them Wehrenberg and his associates were "fixing to" cook methamphetamine, investigators searched the home as Wehrenberg and the others stood outside handcuffed. No crime had been committed yet, but police did find items that involve the making meth, such as pseudoephedrine, stripped lithium batteries and other materials. It was after this the police asked judge to grant them a search warrant for the house.

The early stages of creating a "future crime warrant" were being put into play because officers did their search based on what the informant told them about those involved in the meth operation. Police had already retrieved the items they were looking for. A trial court was rejected by Wehrenberg's attorneys due to illegally seized evidence identified beforehand by a third party, which is known as "independence source doctrine."

Wehrenberg did plead "guilty to one count of possession and one count of intent to manufacture meth and was sentenced to five years in prison," the report said.

The Second Court of Appeals then overturned the trial court's ruling because they said a trial judge should have "excluded the illegally seized evidence." The appeals court ultimately went with the trial court's decision.

As the report explained, "the CCA ruled that the state’s 'exclusionary rule' bans illegally seized evidence from trial, but federal precedent allows it to be introduced if it was first confirmed by an independent source."

This is what CCA Judge Lawrence Meyers wrote in his decision:

“Had the officers entered the home and found the occupants only baking cupcakes, the officers would not have bothered to then obtain the warrant at all. It was only after unlawfully entering and finding suspicious activity that they felt the need to then secure the warrant in order to cover their tracks and collect the evidence without the taint of their entry.”

Meyers added that confidential informant’s tip to officers that Wehrenberg was “fixing to” cook meth "wasn’t independent evidence but a prediction."

How do you feel about a future crime warrant now being accepted in a court of law?



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