Police can’t lie about having a search warrant – Fourth Circuit

US v. Rush.

These excerpts say really everything you need to know:

A law enforcement officer knowingly lied to Defendant Kenneth Rush by claiming that he had a warrant to search the apartment where Defendant was staying when no warrant in fact existed. . . . On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence should have been suppressed.

. . .

No one contests the fact that Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated. The parties disagree only about whether the resulting evidence should have been suppressed. Defendant argues that the district court erred in finding that [the officer] acted in good faith to protect [a third party]. Defendant asserts that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule is inapplicable because Sergeant Winkler deliberately lied about the existence of a search warrant and could not have had an objectively reasonable belief that such a lie was lawful. We agree.

. . .

Exclusion is appropriate when the deterrence benefits of suppression outweigh the “substantial social costs” of excluding the evidence.

. . .

The present case bears no resemblance to the previous applications of the good-faith exception. Here, the search was unconstitutional due to the intentional decision of [the officer] to tell Defendant that there was a search warrant, even though he knew that his statement was untrue. This is not a case of negligence, or reasonable reliance on faulty information.

. . .

Excluding the evidence obtained through a deliberate lie on the part of law enforcement, as in this case, may well deter police officers from so violating the Fourth Amendment in the future. We emphatically agree with the Sixth Circuit’s statement that “so long as there is an exclusionary rule, it seems safe to say that it will apply to officers who enter and remain in a house based on false pretenses.” . . . Accordingly, we reverse and remand.

[Emphasis in original, citations and footnote omitted].

If you want more on this case, you can read the opinion here, or you can read more from the Fourth Circuit Blog.