Franks v. Delaware
438 U.S. 154 (1978)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978)

Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978)

No. 77-5176

Argued February 27, 1978

Decided June 26, 1978

438 U.S. 154

Syllabus

Prior to petitioner's Delaware state trial on rape and related charges and in connection with his motion to suppress on Fourth Amendment grounds items of clothing and a knife found in a search of his apartment, he challenged the truthfulness of certain factual statements made in the police affidavit supporting the warrant to search the apartment, and sought to call witnesses to prove the misstatements. The trial court sustained the State's objection to such proposed testimony and denied the motion to suppress, and the clothing and knife were admitted as evidence at the ensuing trial, at which petitioner was convicted. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a defendant under no circumstances may challenge the veracity of a sworn statement used by police to procure a search warrant.

Held: Where the defendant makes a substantial preliminary showing that a false statement knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, was included by the affiant in the warrant affidavit, and if the allegedly false statement is necessary to the finding of probable cause, the Fourth Amendment, as incorporated in the Fourteenth Amendment, requires that a hearing be held at the defendant's request. The trial court here therefore erred in refusing to examine the adequacy of petitioner's proffer of misrepresentation in the warrant affidavit. Pp. 438 U. S. 155-156; 438 U. S. 164-172.

(a) To mandate an evidentiary hearing, the challenger's attack must be more than conclusory, and must be supported by more than a mere desire to cross-examine. The allegation of deliberate falsehood or of reckless disregard must point out specifically with supporting reasons the portion of the warrant affidavit that is claimed to be false. It also must be accompanied by an offer of proof, including affidavits or sworn or otherwise reliable statements of witnesses, or a satisfactory explanation of their absence. P. 438 U. S. 171.

(b) If these requirements as to allegations and offer of proof are met, and if, when material that is the subject of the alleged falsity or reckless disregard is set to one side, there remains sufficient content in the warrant affidavit to support a finding of probable cause, no hearing is required, but if the remaining content is insufficient, the defendant is entitled under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to a hearing. Pp. 438 U. S. 171-172.

Page 438 U. S. 155

(c) If, after a hearing, a defendant establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the false statement was included in the affidavit by the affiant knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, and the false statement was necessary to the finding of probable cause, then the search warrant must be voided, and the fruits of the search excluded from the trial to the same extent as if probable cause was lacking on the face of the affidavit. Pp. 155-156.

373 A.2d 578, reversed and remanded.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., joined, post, p. 438 U. S. 180.

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