Injustice Unveiled: Shocking Police Searches Targeting Uninvolved and Innocent Property Owners

One might think that someone who didn’t commit any crimes or even suspected of committing a crime would be afforded some protection under the Fourth Amendment, one that protects you against unreasonable searches and seizures. That is not so. “In situations where the State does not seek to seize ‘persons’ but only those ‘things’ which there is probable cause to believe are located on the place to be searched, there is no apparent basis in the language of the [Fourth] Amendment for also imposing the requirements for a valid arrest—probable cause to believe that the third party is implicated in the crime.” Zurcher v. Stanford Daily, 436 U.S. 547, 554 (1978) (holding that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the issuance of search warrants simply because the possessor of the property is not suspected of criminal involvement).

“Probable cause ‘is not a high bar,’ ” United States v. Sheckles, 996 F.3d 330, 337 (6th Cir. 2021) (quoting District of Columbia v. Wesby, ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S. Ct. 577, 586, 199 L.Ed.2d 453 (2018)), but neither is it a nonexistent one. “[T]o establish probable cause for a search, an affidavit must show a likelihood of two things: first, that the items sought are ‘seizable by virtue of being connected with criminal activity’; and second, ‘that the items will be found in the place to be searched.’ ” United States v. Abernathy, 843 F.3d 243, 249 (6th Cir. 2016) (alteration in original) (quoting United States v. Church, 823 F.3d 351, 355 (6th Cir. 2016)); see also Zurcher, 436 U.S. at 554, 98 S.Ct. 1970 (“[V]alid warrants may be issued to search any property … at which there is probable cause to believe that fruits, instrumentalities, or evidence of a crime will be found.” (original emphasis omitted)).


Quincino Waide first encountered the Lexington police after a shed fire occurred on the property next to his. Although no one suspected Waide of having anything to do with the fire, the fire investigator noticed surveillance cameras attached to Waide’s duplex residence and asked Waide to turn over his digital video recorder (DVR) to see what it might reveal about the shed fire. When Waide declined, the investigator sought a warrant (the DVR warrant) to enter Waide’s apartment and retrieve the DVR.
The affidavit in support of the DVR warrant, however, lacked reliable evidence to establish probable cause to believe that the shed fire was due to arson or any other criminal activity. A state magistrate nevertheless issued the warrant. When the fire *332 investigator and five other officials with the Lexington Police and Fire Departments arrived at Waide’s duplex to execute the DVR warrant, their threatened entry and a pointed inquiry about whether Waide had drugs on the premises caused Waide to admit that his apartment contained a small amount of marijuana. This confession led to the issuance of two subsequent warrants (the narcotics warrants) to search both units of Waide’s duplex for narcotics. The searches yielded a firearm plus large quantities of drugs and money.
After the district court denied Waide’s multiple motions to suppress evidence, he entered into a conditional guilty plea to the offense of possessing cocaine and heroin with the intent to distribute the drugs, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and to the offense of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1).
Waide now appeals. For the reasons set forth below, we REVERSE the judgment of the district court and REMAND with instructions to suppress the unlawfully collected evidence.

Read Full Case Here: United States v. Waide, 60 F.4th 327, 331–32 (6th Cir. 2023),

Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM | Criminal Defense and Business Law
(619) 357-6677

Do you want to buy our Lawstache merchandise? Maybe a t-shirt?

Want to buy products we endorse on Amazon?

Want to mail me something (usually mustache related)? Send it to 185 West F Street, Suite 100-D, San Diego, CA 92101

Want to learn about our recent victories?

Are you a Russian speaker? Вы говорите по-русски?

Based in San Diego, CA
Licensed: California, Nevada, and Federal Courts

The San Diego-based business litigation and criminal defense attorneys at LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM are experienced and dedicated professionals singularly focused on one goal: achieving the best results for our clients. Through our hard work and expertise, we guarantee all of our clients that we will diligently protect their rights and zealously pursue justice. Our clients deserve nothing less!