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State v. Wright

Superior Court of Delaware

December 3, 2013

State of Delaware
v.
Janqwon Wright,

Dear Counsel:

Before the Court is Defendant Janqwon Wright's ("Wright's") Motion to Suppress. Wright's Motion is DENIED.

Facts

The Sussex County Grand Jury indicted Wright with Possession of a Deadly Weapon (firearm) by a Person Prohibited and Possession of a Deadly Weapon (ammunition) by a Person Prohibited. These charges stem from a search warrant issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware on June 4, 2013. The affiant, a federal agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives ("ATF"), sought the warrant to obtain evidence of specified federal crimes at Wright's residence in Bridgeville, Delaware. Upon executing the warrant, a firearm and ammunition were discovered. Wright states that upon discovering that he was a person prohibited under Delaware law, the seized items were give to the Delaware State Police ("DSP"), who arrested him on the present charges.

Discussion

Wright moves to suppress the seized items because 11 Del. C. § 2304 authorizes a warrant to be issued only by an authorized state official. He claims that a search warrant authorized by a federal official cannot be valid under § 2304. Wright acknowledges that Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41 ("Rule 41") authorizes a state judge to issue a warrant to be used in a federal prosecution, but argues that no converse rule exists authorizing a federal judge to issue a warrant to a state officer to be used in a state prosecution.

It is permissible for a state judge to issue a warrant requested by state officers for violation of state law, and for property seized under that warrant to be offered in a federal prosecution.[1] This Court sees no reason why, as a matter of Delaware law, the opposite cannot be true (i.e. that property can be introduced in a Delaware prosecution stemming from a warrant issued by a federal judge at the request of federal officers for violation of a federal law). A warrant's classification as "federal" depends on the circumstances of the case;[2] and the parties in the present Motion assumedly do not contest that the warrant permitting the search of Wright's residence was a "federal warrant." Although the Court cannot find a Delaware statute or case explicitly affirming that a "federal warrant" can be used as the basis for Delaware prosecution, the Delaware Supreme Court has in the past implicitly sanctioned such use.[3]

Wright's Motion is therefore DENIED.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Very truly yours,

Richard F. Stokes Judge


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