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A false police report was called in saying someone has a gun…

Hi, a false police...

Hi, a false police report was called in saying someone has a gun and is trying to kill themselves, the SWAT team shows up. The pweson finally comes out of the house and a search warrant is issued to search for a gun and none are found, but they find alleged drugs, can you sue for defamation for the false police report and the search becomes inadmissible if you get a letter stating that your lease will be terminated because if the false report of someone trying to kill themself and they werent?

Lawyer's Assistant: Since laws vary from place to place, what state is this in? And when was the warrant issued?

Virginia

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?

No, I can't afford one

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

I just want to know my rights, because the police knew no one was threatening to kill themselves because pest control had came out of the house from their scheduled check and told them he didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary and it should have been seen as a false police report.

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Answered in 1 minute by:
11/22/2017
ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 18,161
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Thank you for using JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Pest control had just been there and informed the police when they arrived?

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I wasn't at home and I didn't know anyone was at my home until hours later after the police had been outside my home. I found out from my next door neighbor that the pest control guy was stopped by the police and he told them that he didn't see or hear anything or anyone in the house while he was there...

You said the "pweson [person?] finally comes out of the house and a search warrant is issued to search for a gun and none are found,". But then you said no one was there?

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
The way I see it, if a report of a disturbed person was trying to kill them was still going on, they would have still been going on while the pest control guy was inside the the house. I think the police over reacted and made the situation worst than what it was, cause their was no situation if a disturbed person going on at that time or any other time trying to kill themselves. Yes, I found out hours later the my kids father was sleeping on the couch when pest control had came through the living room door and I thought no one was there. He was supposed to be working about an hour away, but he called in sick that day unbeknownst to me and didn't know what was going on until hours later when he awoke to hear his name being called from outside of the house by the police. As a matter of fact, he was on his way out to smoke when he saw all the police with there weapons and got scared and went back inside because he said he didn't want to be killed by the police.

Who made the report?

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I don't know who called it in, but the police should have a record of who notified them
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I feel once pest control had came and went and the policed stopped him and questioned him and he told them he didn't see or hear anything, that should have been the end of the story. From my understanding, this happened around 9am and no one including me, didn't know anyone was inside the house until close to 1:30pm.

Understood. Thank you for that additional information. Please give me a few minutes while I type a response. I am still here with you, but it does take a bit of time to type a complete response.

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One other thing: you said that a search warrant was issued after the person came out, correct?

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
the police had stated that a disturbed person with a gun was threatening to kill themselves, so they got a search warrant to look for gun, which they didn't find a gun, instead they found alleged drug paraphernalia. If a false police report of a disturbed man with a gun is well false and it was basically confirmed that there wasn't a disturbed man with a gun was inside when pest control came out over 4 hours earlier why would they still be outside making matters worse when they didn't see nor hear anything coming from my home. I believe the police escalated the entire situation and made matters worse because there was nothing going on stating that there was a disturbance at my home. It should have been squashed right then when pest control had came out. Isn't that called the fruit of the poisionest tree, because you find something else inside when you're looking for a gun, in which you didn't find, so you find something else and you get into trouble with your landlord and your lease gets terminated and you have to go to court so they can evict you?

Thank you. Please give me a few minutes...

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There actually a number of issues here:

1. Exclude evidence based upon lack of probable cause

2. Defamation

3. Lease termination

First of all, the police have to have "probable cause" to obtain a warrant. Now probable cause based upon a police report really hinges upon who made the report. If it was anonymous, that would be less persuasive than if it was someone who was a neighbor or close relative (or at least purporting to be one). It's based upon what the police reasonably believe to be true, not necessarily what is actually true. But that can also change, so that upon the report of the pest guy, that might be enough to change the equation, such that entry into the property is without probable cause (and thus any evidence obtained would be excludeable under the 4th amendment). But it's really a matter for the judge to determine whether or not there was probable cause at the time. They weigh all the evidence, both for and against. If the pest guy literally just came out as the police were arriving, and said that he went through the entire property, everywhere, and didn't see anything wrong and no one was in there, then that might be enough. But it's also possible that he hadn't been in there in 30 minutes or so, or more. Things can change that quickly. So it would have to be that the pest guy had literally just left the apartment as the police were coming up for that to be a relevant thing that would change the equation. Of course if this is going to trial on a criminal charge, I certainly would file a motion to exclude the evidence based upon lack of probable cause. But whether or not it's granted is based upon everything that can be established, the timeline, etc...

As far as defamation is concerned:

False police reports are privileged against defamation claims. But the precise nature of that privilege is not always clear. Is it a qualified privilege, subject to being lost through abuse or bad faith, or is it an absolute immunity that insulates all statements to police against defamation claims no matter the intentions of the speaker? The distinction can make all the difference in cases where reports are made to the police not for the purpose of actually reporting crime, or to enforce obedience to the law, or to see that guilty people are punished, but for the purpose of harassing another individual. The nature of the privilege for defamatory statements made to the police will generally depend on the context and timing in which the statements at issue were made.

In Virginia, reports to the police enjoy at least conditional protection. The uncertainty lies in whether that protection can be elevated to “absolute” status. A qualified privilege exists where a communication is made in good faith, on a subject in which the communicating party has an interest or owes a duty, to a party who has a corresponding interest or duty. Citizens are generally thought to have an interest, if not a duty, in keeping the streets safe by identifying potential criminals to the police, and the police obviously have a corresponding interest in receiving that information, so statements made to the police meet the basic test for qualified privilege. (See also Marsh v. Commercial & Sav. Bank of Winchester, 265 F. Supp. 614, 621 (W.D. Va. 1967) (finding statements made by bank tellers to the police were protected by qualified privilege)).

So in short, to have a case of defamation, you'd have to prove "bad faith". It's not enough just to prove the elements of a typical defamation claim, but the additional element of bad faith. Assuming that this is the case, then that would be enough to have a case for defamation against the communicator of the false report.

Finally, in regards ***** ***** termination, there would not be anything that could be done other than to argue that there was no violation. IF there were drugs in the apartment and that's a violation of the lease, it doesn't matter how the information was obtained or if the police warrant was with or without probable cause, or if a defamation case was won. The only question in that case would be if there was or was not a banned substance in the unit. That would be what the "fact finder" (the jury, or the judge in a bench trial) would be asked. If the answer is yes that there was a banned substance, then that's all that is needed to terminate the lease. Again, that's even in the case where the evidence is thrown out of the criminal trial and a defamation case would be won. How the evidence was found would not be considered, but rather if it was there in the first place.

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable.

Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (3 or more stars). Look for the stars on your screen (★★★★★). You may need to scroll left/right/up/down to see these stars, but note that the rating is what closes out this question, so it is necessary that you do so.

Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Thank you for the information.

You're welcome, and again, good luck to you!

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