What is the test for material omissions in a search warrant application?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Meredith, B234698 (Cal. App. 2013):

7. "Omissions are 'material' if the affidavit was rendered substantially misleading, i.e., if there was a 'substantial probability [the omitted facts] would have altered a reasonable magistrate's probable cause determination.' [Citation.] If the asserted omissions are deemed immaterial and the affidavit on its face supports probable cause, the warrant usually stands. [Citation.] [] If a material fact is reasonably omitted, no sanction is imposed. [Citation.] If a material fact is negligently omitted, the reviewing court should view the affidavit as if it had included that fact and retest it for probable cause. [Citation.] Lastly, if a fact is recklessly omitted or omitted with an intent to mislead, the warrant should be quashed, regardless of whether the omission is ultimately deemed material.'" (People v. Carpenter (1997) 15 Cal.4th 312, 363.)

8. "'If for example, a particular informant is known for the unusual reliability of his predictions of certain types of criminal activities in a locality, his failure, in a particular case, to thoroughly set forth the basis of his knowledge surely should not serve as an absolute bar to a finding of probable cause based on his tip. [Citation.] Likewise, if an unquestionably honest citizen comes forward with a report of criminal activitywhich if fabricated would subject him to criminal liabilitywe have found rigorous scrutiny of the basis of his knowledge unnecessary. [Citation.] Conversely, even if we entertain some doubt as to an informant's motives, his explicit and detailed description of alleged wrongdoing, along with a statement that the event was observed firsthand, entitles his tip to greater weight than might otherwise be the case.'" (People v. French, supra, 201 Cal.App.4th at p. 1316, quoting Illinois v. Gates, supra, 462 U.S. at pp. 233-234.)

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