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Arizona Court of Appeals Affirms Lower Court’s Denial of Defendant’s Motion to Suppress Text Messages

This past month, an appeals court in Arizona ruled on a defendant’s appeal of the lower court’s decision on his motion to suppress. After the defendant had been charged with a series of violent crimes, he asked the trial court to suppress evidence of incriminating messages that investigators found on his Facebook account. After the first court denied this motion, the defendant appealed, and the higher court took the matter under advisement.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, investigators were looking into the murder of a local woman when they began to suspect the defendant in this case. They obtained a search warrant from a court, and thus got permission to look through the defendant’s social media accounts to see if they could find any leads.

Upon looking at the defendant’s Facebook account, the investigators found a message that he had sent a friend with a picture of the dead victim. In the message, the defendant wrote, “look what I did.” Investigators used this information to find more incriminating evidence against the defendant, and he was eventually criminally charged.

The defendant’s case went to trial on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, tampering with physical evidence, and unauthorized burning of wildlands. Before trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress, asking the court to prohibit the State from introducing the Facebook message into evidence. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that the officers’ warrant did not meet the requirements under the law and thus that the evidence they found using the warrant should be suppressed. According to the defendant, all warrant applications have a specificity requirement, which means they must not be general but instead be both detailed and accurate with what information they are seeking. Here, said the defendant, the warrant was too general, and it had an error in that it listed the incorrect location for where the defendant resided.

The higher court looked at the warrant in question, ultimately finding that it was not too general to meet the requirements for a legal and reasonable warrant. The investigators were specific enough in their language, and even though the location was indeed inaccurate, this amounted to a small technical error that the investigators could eventually fix.

Thus, because the warrant was acceptable, the evidence found as a result was also admissible at the defendant’s trial. The court affirmed the original decision to deny the defendant’s motion to suppress.

Are You Looking for a Criminal Defense Attorney in Arizona?

If you are facing charges related to an Arizona violent crime, know that you have an attorney on your side at the Law Office of James E. Novak. We work tirelessly to defend the rights of our clients when they need it the most, and we will not stop until we have utilized every tool at our disposal to fight for you. For a free and confidential consultation, give us a call today at 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to have your questions answered.

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