Joseph Coleman secured a victory for his client after a Philadelphia judge granted his four corners motion to suppress a gun. T.H. was charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, a felony of the first degree, and faced up twenty years in prison on this charge alone. Prior to trial, Mr. Coleman filed a Motion to Suppress, alleging that the firearm was recovered after the police violated T.H.’s constitutional rights by searching his house without probable cause.
The Constitution requires that all people, and their property, be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. A Motion to Suppress requests that the court not allow certain evidence to be introduced at trial. This evidence should be suppressed if the government obtained it by violating the defendant’s constitutional rights in some manner.
Before the police may search an individual’s house, they require a search warrant supported by probable cause. Probable cause essentially means that there is a fair probability that police will find contraband inside of the house. This is called a “four corners motion” because the court only examines the four corners of the search warrant and affidavit to determine whether there is probable cause. There is no testimony at the hearing.
At the hearing, the Commonwealth introduced the warrant and affidavit of probable cause. The affidavit stated that police observed T.H.’s cousin, a juvenile, post pictures on Instagram illegally possessing a firearm seven days prior. Police determined that the juvenile lived at T.H.’s address. Based on this information, the Commonwealth argued that police had probable cause to believe that the illegal firearm would still be at the residence a week later.
Mr. Coleman argued that the affidavit did not state how it was determined that the juvenile resided at T.H.’s house, that the pictures of the juvenile holding the gun were not inside the property and were on the streets, and that seven days had passed and it was unreasonable to believe there would be a gun in the house.
The court agreed with Mr. Coleman and found there was no probable cause, granted the motion to suppress, and the case was subsequently dismissed. This case illustrates the importance of understanding the law as there was no testimony and the hearing was based on an analysis of the facts and a comparison of prior appellate court cases.
REFUSE TO LOSE!