Defendants in Washington criminal cases often challenge the evidence used against them. One way to challenge evidence is to challenge the validity of the search warrant used to obtain it. When a court issues a search warrant, it must determine there is probable cause based on the facts presented to it. This determination is the court’s responsibility and cannot be made by police officers, so there must be more than conclusory statements supporting the warrant. The court is permitted, however, to draw reasonable inferences from the facts presented.
The defendant in a recent case challenged a search warrant. According to the appellate court opinion, the defendant was convicted of vehicular assault after losing control of her vehicle and crashing into two other vehicles. Subsequent blood tests found a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.13 and 4.0 nanograms of THC. The defendant appealed her conviction, arguing a lack of probable cause to support the warrant authorizing the blood draw.
The firefighter paramedic who responded to the scene saw a female driver who was barely conscious. He transported her to the hospital. He identified the defendant as the driver.