Legislature Loosens Warrant Requirements in Tennessee

Legislature Loosens Warrant Requirements in Tennessee

  • The Exclusionary Rule Reform Act: Tennessee

  • The TN Legislature recently passed The Exclusionary Rule Reform Act, easing the state's strict search warrant requirements. Specifically, the law provides a good faith exception to the suppression of evidence obtained as a result of mistakes or errors in search warrants. If an officer, in good faith, makes a typographical error in a search warrant, any evidence obtained pursuant to the warrant will be admitted at trial.

    The law was prompted by a case out of Nashville involving a typographical error on a search warrant. Officers seized large amounts of drugs from the defendant's home, bu the court was forced to suppress the evidence because the typographical error rendered the warrant invalid. According to the Exclusionary Rule of the Sixth Amendment, any evidence seized as a result of an invalid warrant cannot be used against the defendant at trial.

    The Legislature defines good faith as,

    "An unintentional error made by a law enforcement officer, court official or issuing magistrate in the form, preparation, issuance, service, execution,filing and handling of copies, or return and inventory of a search warrant."

    The law also extends the good faith exception to situations where an officer has sufficient information describing items to be included in a warrant, yet the magistrate neglects to include them. Lastly, the law protects any reliance on a law that is subsequently ruled unconstitutional.

    We previously discussed this legislation when it passed in the house here.

    This new exception to the exclusionary rule will take effect on July 1, 2011.

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