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Similarly, if the affidavit establishes probable cause despite an alleged omission, the omission is of no moment. Therefore, I pause to review briefly the concept of probable cause. The Supreme Court said in Ornelas v. United States , U. Illinois v. Gates , U. In Maryland v. Pringle , U. Probable cause is a fluid concept—turning on the assessment of probabilities in particular factual contexts—not readily, or even usefully, reduced to a neat set of legal rules.
The probable-cause standard is incapable of precise definition or quantification into percentages because it deals with probabilities and depends on the totality of the circumstances. We have stated, however, that [t]he substance of all the definitions of probable cause is a reasonable ground for belief of guilt, and that the belief of guilt must be particularized with respect to the person to be searched or seized[. As indicated, the concept of probable cause is not subject to precise definition.
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Rather, "[p]robable cause is a flexible standard that simply requires 'a reasonable ground for belief of guilt' and 'more than bare suspicion. Ortiz , F. The "standard" of "'reasonable ground for belief of guilt' requires less of a showing than does the formal preponderance-of-the evidence standard. Indeed, such "[f]inely-tuned standards. Notably, a search warrant is construed "in a commonsense manner" in order to serve the "significant purpose of encouraging officers to obtain judicial approval prior to conducting a search.
Dargan , F. An "overly stringent" construction of probable cause is not required.
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I turn next to review a handful of cases that are informative with regard to a Franks issue. In Colkley , F. In addition, he complained because the agent based the composite height description of the vault robber, allegedly Johnson, on the testimony of only one witness, disregarding other witnesses who described the vault robber as shorter than the person depicted in the affidavit. On this basis, the defendant requested and received a Franks hearing.
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The Fourth Circuit did not agree with the district court that a Franks hearing was appropriate. In its view, the defendant did not make the requisite preliminary showing that the affiant intended to mislead the magistrate, and inclusion of the omitted information would not have defeated probable cause in any event.
As to a claim of omission, the Fourth Circuit was mindful of "the realities of the warrant application process. It stated: "An affiant cannot be expected to include in an affidavit every piece of information gathered in the course of an investigation. Although a decision not to include information is intentional, a mere intentional omission is not within the scope of Franks , because the requisite intent would be satisfied in virtually every case.
The Colkley Court stated: " Franks clearly requires defendants to allege more than 'intentional' omission in this weak sense. The Court continued: " Franks protects against omissions that are designed to mislead, or that are made in reckless disregard of whether they would mislead, the magistrate. To obtain a Franks hearing, the defendant must show that the omission is the product of a 'deliberate falsehood or of reckless disregard for the truth. Thus, the Colkley Court recognized that "the affirmative inclusion of false information in an affidavit is more likely to present a question of impermissible official conduct than a failure to include a matter that might be construed as exculpatory.
In its view, the most that the record revealed was the agent's "failure to include the photo spread information. However, the Court declined to infer intent or recklessness from the mere fact of such an omission. As to that conduct, the Fourth Circuit observed that the agent's "acts fell far short of the level of flagrant police action Franks is designed to prevent, and a hearing under that decision was not required. In the Fourth Circuit's view, to the extent that the photospread information was exculpatory, it was not enough to defeat probable cause when weighed against the content of the affidavit.
The Court recognized that "a requirement that all potentially exculpatory evidence be included in an affidavit would severely disrupt the warrant process. The rule would place an extraordinary burden on law enforcement officers, who might have to follow up and include in a warrant affidavit every hunch and detail of an investigation in the futile attempt to prove the negative proposition that no potentially exculpatory evidence had been excluded.
The Court concluded: "In short, a rule requiring affiants to disclose all potentially exculpatory information has nothing to recommend it. Unless a defendant makes a strong preliminary showing that the affiant excluded critical information from the affidavit with the intent to mislead the magistrate, the Fourth Amendment provides no basis for a subsequent attack on the affidavit's integrity. The case of United States v. Tate , F.
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There, the defendant claimed that his trash had not been abandoned, and therefore the search of it by the police was unconstitutional under California v. Greenwood , U. As a result, he challenged the warrant, which included the contents of the search.
To support Tate's request for a Franks hearing, he proffered, inter alia , a letter from the Division Chief of the Baltimore Department of Public Works' Bureau of Solid Waste as to when the defendant's trash collection occurred; two affidavits, one from a neighbor and another from a defense investigator concerning the trash pickup and where Tate's garbage was stored; photographs of the residence showing a locked gate and the area where the trash was kept; and a copy of another search warrant affidavit two months earlier in an unrelated case, in which the same officer stated that the trash bags were easily accessible in language quite similar to what was in the affidavit at issue.
The district judge denied the request for a Franks hearing. The Fourth Circuit concluded that Tate had made the requisite preliminary showing that the law enforcement agent had knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, omitted a material statement in the affidavit in support of the warrant. The Court focused on the agent's omission of facts about the location of trash that had been searched, the contents of which undergirded the affidavit.
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The Fourth Circuit reasoned, F. Moreover, the Court determined "that if Tate's facts are true, the inclusion of the allegedly omitted information - that Agent Manners illegally searched Tate's trash - would have defeated probable cause. If the trash investigation was conducted illegally, the facts derived from it would have to be stricken from the affidavit. And, said the Tate Court: "Without the facts drawn from the trash investigation, the remaining contents of the affidavit would not have supported a finding of probable cause.
With these principles in mind, I turn to review the factual background in this case. The reports indicated that Yahoo! The reporting requirement is mandatory. See 18 U. ECF "First Report". NCMEC indicated that on October 4, , Yahoo reported that on October 20, , files of suspected child pornography were uploaded onto its networking service "Flickr," a free image and video hosting website.
ECF at 1, 6. Yahoo provided the following information about the account user, id. NCMEC also provided additional information ascertained through its investigation. For example, a Google search for "lordshackisac yahoo. He signed off as "Fred Crockett jr fredneck.
He was listed on the Maryland Sex Offender Registry "SOR" in connection with charges relating to visual surveillance with prurient intent. ECF at Crockett was required to register as a Tier I sex offender. And, according to the Cecil County Sheriff's Office, he was in compliance with his sex offender registration obligations. In addition, all of the Yahoo accounts shared a common telephone number. From March 19, until May 23, , the number was The number was changed to as of May 23, Notably, at one place in the Supplemental Report, the new phone number was identified as " Clearly, that number is a mistake, because it has an extra digit.
The new last digit followed the last digit of the prior phone number. The Supplemental Report advised that the Flickr account lordshackisac is associated with the Yahoo account lordshackisac yahoo. Freddie c. As to the "lordshackisac" Yahoo account, ECIT indicated that the user's gender is male; the user's date of birth is August 2, ; and the user-provided location is "Earleville, MD, United States, ECIT also reported that the email account of bcfdres1cue yahoo.
The last successful login to the "lordshackisac" Yahoo account occurred on May 23, , from Comcast IP address cbac sometimes referred to as the " IP address" , located in or around Elkton, Maryland. Of relevance here, on October 3, , Yahoo deactivated the "lordshackisac" Yahoo account for possession of child sexual abuse imagery "CSAI". As noted, the lordshackisac Yahoo account was associated with several other Yahoo accounts. They were identified as follows, id. The Supplemental Report also reviewed the various related Yahoo accounts.
The accounts had user names such as "Mr. For example, with regard to the email account of bcfdres1cue yahoo. It had alternate email addresses of Copedipper gmail. And, the date of birth provided for the account was August 2, Significantly, although the "bcfdres1cue" Yahoo account was created in February , NCMEC reported that the user's affiliated Flickr account, bcfdres1cue, was not created until October 3, And, the user's Flickr screen name for the account is "Fred C. ECF the "Second Report".
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Specifically, NCMEC indicated that on October 24, , Yahoo identified two image files containing suspected child pornography in an account using its Flickr service. NCMEC indicated that the reported user appears to be a registered sex offender, id. Of relevance here, the Second Report did not include information about the date on which the two image files had been uploaded to the user's account.
Nor did it specify the IP address from which they had been uploaded. But, the Second Report stated, id. Because the IP addresses associated with the activity were "old," Hunt contacted Yahoo to obtain updated IP addresses. ECF at 1. He was advised that the most updated IP address was the IP address.
Donald noted that files containing child pornography were uploaded on October 20, , from Comcase IP address Further, he stated that the last successful login to lordshakisac yahoo. ECF at 3. In fact, the date was incorrect, and that IP address was not included in the Second Report. TFC Donald then described the two images, setting forth the pornographic depiction of two female minors.