United States v. Thomas (P)

The affidavit supporting a warrant to search the appellant’s cell phone was insufficient to support probable cause, but the detective knew the appellant had used a phone in furtherance of sexually abusing minors. This additional information supported probable cause to search his phone after arrest. Therefore, sexually explicit images and videos of children found on the phone were admissible under the good-faith exception to the Fourth Amendment.

The omission of this information from the affidavit is “inadvertent” even if the detective intentionally didn’t disclose it, pursuant to the police department’s policy to limit warrant affidavits to the minimum facts necessary to support probable cause. The detective’s intent was to obtain a valid warrant by presenting supporting facts, so his failure to adequately support the warrant was inadvertent.


United States v. Thomas (P), No. 17-4523, Nov. 8, 2018. 4th Cir. (Harris) from WDVA at Harrisonburg (Urbanski).

Categories: 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Opinions, Published


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