What does ‘filed in good faith’ mean, exactly?

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What does ‘filed in good faith’ mean, exactly?

According to justia.com, a valid search warrant requires that ‘the warrant must be filed in good faith by a law enforcement officer’. What exactly does this phrase mean? And if a search warrant is filed based on information/evidence that was obtained illegally by law enforcement would that constitute ‘bad faith’ or be otherwise forbidden?

Asked on July 23, 2017 under Criminal Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

"Good faith" is a subjective inquiry in what the officers knew or should have known and whether they were essentially honest in what they filed. For example, say that there was a report of someone selling drugs and the informant (who usually is reliable) gave the wrong address--your address, instead of that of a house down the street. The officers had no reason to know it was wrong, so when they file for a search warrant based on the informant's information, they filed in "good faith": in a reasonable and honest belief that the information was good. So the search warrant may be based on incorrect information, but was applied for in good faith and will likley be upheld.
And if the officers did not themselves do anything intentionally illegal in obtaining the information on which the warrant was based, it *might* still be upheld, based on good faith. Example: a cop pulls over Bob; the cop thought he had good cause to do so, because he thought Bob's car had been stolen; when he pulls over Bob, Bob is found with drugs and says something which leads the officers to think you sold the drugs to Bob, and they get a warrant based on that; however, as it turns out, Bob's car had not been stolen, and so they never should have pulled him over in the first place. The stop was illegal; but since it was all done in good faith, it's possible that the warrant for your home will still be valid.


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