Search Warrants for Meth Labs

I’ve had several questions lately concerning search warrants for meth labs. The basic issue is whether officers who find hazardous chemicals and other dangerous items may destroy them right away, before the defendant has a chance to examine and test them. Related questions include whether a judge has the power to authorize such destruction when issuing a search warrant; what steps officers should take to photograph or otherwise document items that they plan to destroy; and how courts should analyze arguments by the defense that the destroyed items had exculpatory potential.

All these questions turn out to be complicated and interesting, and the resulting analysis became too long for a blog post. I turned it into a short paper in PDF format. The paper is available here. As always, I welcome comments and feedback of all kinds.

1 thought on “Search Warrants for Meth Labs”

  1. Very helpful article. Thank you.
    Do you think it would make any difference (in the outcome of an appeal) if the destruction of the lab materials/components was made through a court order rather than a search warrant?
    I would imagine there are other items of evidence that the State is not expected to actually produce in court and which are difficult or impossible for the defense to examine as part of discovery. Dead bodies come to mind.


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