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Court Rejects Evidence from Unsworn Affidavit

When defending yourself against criminal charges, having an experienced attorney on your side can help you identify mistakes made by law enforcement that can potentially change the outcome of your case. What might appear to be solid charges often lack the legal grounds necessary to lawfully bring them against you, and an experienced Galveston criminal defense attorney can identify those flaws.

Combing through Every Intricacy of a Case

No criminal charges should ever be taken as absolute, and you should always verify the validity of the evidence against you. State and federal laws lay out procedures for law enforcement to make it harder for them to bring criminal charges against a defendant without cause. If law enforcement fails to take the proper steps before gathering evidence against someone, that evidence can be thrown out.

For example, if a blood test is used to prove the existence of certain substances in your body, your defense strategy should be to ensure all necessary legal steps were followed in performing that test. Recently, a Texas court ruled that all blood tests must include a sworn affidavit if they are to be admissible. Thanks to painstaking criminal advocacy, the evidence was thrown out, leading to dropped charges.

In State v. Hodges, a defendant used legal precedents to show that police officers must administer an oath before obtaining evidence against someone. Under Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 18.01(b) and Clay v. State, 391 S.W.3d 94, “no search warrant can be issued unless probable cause exists. Officers must file a sworn affidavit that establishes probable cause before a magistrate or other qualified officer. Only then can they obtain a valid search warrant.”

How This Ruling Was Reached

In the State v. Hodges case, two officers worked together to obtain blood evidence against a defendant. One officer signed the affidavit at the direction of the other, but not under oath. When they submitted the affidavit to a local magistrate, they once again failed to administer an oath, making the resulting search warrant unlawful.

The State still argued that the affidavit was valid, as the officer who signed it believed he did so under oath. However, the administrating officer admitted that he hadn’t administered any such oath, conflicting with the other officer’s account. This discrepancy was key to having the evidence thrown out.

What This Means for You

You cannot overstate the importance of confirming lawfully obtained evidence in a criminal trial. Requiring a properly administered oath may seem like a trivial law, but it could be the difference between a brush with the law and a lifetime of criminal consequences.

At Zendeh Del & Associates, PLLC, we comb through every intricacy when fighting cases, and we know that things are not often what they seem. Even when police officers show what looks like a valid search warrant, our Galveston criminal defense lawyers have the experience and understanding to attack their allegations. Our track record of successful case results speaks to our ability to protect our clients from unlawful search practices.