Texas police can now obtain search warrants based on “predictions of the commission of future crimes,” a judge noted in his dissent to an opinion last week.
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Lawrence Meyers made the claim after the judicial body ruled that evidence authorities had first found during a search they had executed without a warrant was admissible in the court of law, according to the Dallas Observer.
In 2010, police officers in Parker County reportedly took Michael Fred Wehrenberg and a few others into custody after a month-long investigation.
Authorities say a confidential informant said Wehrenberg and some associates were “fixing to” cook meth, so they searched his home while detaining the group outside in handcuffs, the Observer reported.
Investigators reportedly found the materials necessary for producing meth — boxes of pseudoephedrine and stripped lithium batteries, among other things — and then asked a judge to grant them a warrant to search the house.
But the officers never noted in the warrant that they had already entered the home and instead based their request for a warrant on a tip from their confidential informant.
When police then reentered the home, they reportedly seized all the items they had already found.
Wehrenberg’s lawyers argued that the evidence had been taken illegally and should not be permitted in court as evidence. The motion was denied and the evidence was allowed to be introduced.
The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth reportedly disagreed and overturned the ruling, setting the stage for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to make the final ruling.
According to the Dallas Observer, in a majority opinion Judge Elsa Alcala ruled that federal precedent allowed the evidence to be introduced if first confirmed by an independent source.
Meyers wrote a scathing dissenting opinion in response.
“Had the officers entered the home and found the occupants only baking cupcakes, the officers would not have bothered to then obtain the warrant at all,” he wrote. “It was only after unlawfully entering and finding suspicious activity that they felt the need to then secure the warrant in order to cover their tracks and collect the evidence without the taint of their entry.”
The judge added that authorities were only told that Wehrenberg was “fixing to” cook meth — an action that had yet to occur and something he views as only a prediction.
“Search warrants may now be based on predictions of the commission of future crimes,” Meyers wrote.
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