JAMES WILLIS CAMPBELL, SR.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
THE CIRCUIT COURT OF AMHERST COUNTY J. Michael Gamble, Judge
C. Goad, III (Shrader Law Office, on brief), for appellant.
Katherine Quinlan Adelfio, Assistant Attorney General (Mark
R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Humphreys, AtLee and Senior Judge Clements
Argued at Lexington, Virginia
HARRISON CLEMENTS JUDGE
Amherst County grand jury indicted James Willis Campbell, Sr.
(appellant) for manufacturing or possessing methamphetamine
with the intent to distribute it. See Code §
18.2-248. Appellant moved to suppress the evidence seized
when the police entered his property and searched it on
August 6, 2014 pursuant to a search warrant. The trial court
found that the affidavit upon which the warrant was based was
not filed as required by Code § 19.2-54, Virginia's
statute prohibiting general warrants and detailing the
procedures for filing warrants and affidavits. Nonetheless,
the trial court found that probable cause and exigent
circumstances existed to justify a search without a warrant,
and denied the motion to suppress the evidence. On appeal,
appellant argues the trial court erred in denying the motion
to suppress. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the
trial court's ruling and remand the matter to the trial
reviewing a trial court's denial of a defendant's
motion to suppress, we review the evidence in the light most
favorable to the Commonwealth, according it the benefit of
all reasonable inferences fairly deducible from the
evidence." Anderson v. Commonwealth, 279 Va.
85, 90, 688 S.E.2d 605, 607 (2010).
about 10:30 p.m. on August 6, 2014, a magistrate issued a
search warrant for premises owned by appellant and located in
Amherst County. The warrant authorized a search for items
related to the manufacture of methamphetamine. Investigator
James Begley appeared before the magistrate and executed the
affidavit in support of the search warrant. The affidavit
included information Begley had received from an informant
regarding the existence of a methamphetamine lab on
appellant's property. The informant had advised Begley
that a "meth cook" was planned for later that
left the magistrate's office with two signed copies of
the warrant and the underlying affidavit. He gave one copy to
the Virginia State Police. Begley and officers with the
Virginia State Police tactical team executed the warrant at
11:52 p.m. on August 6, 2014. The officers seized evidence
related to the manufacture of methamphetamine. They arrested
appellant and others.
magistrate retained one copy of the search warrant and
affidavit, which contained handwritten additions to indicate
appellant's property was located in Madison Heights, a
community within Amherst County. Documents relating to the
warrant subsequently were faxed from the magistrate's
office to the clerk of the circuit court for Amherst County,
and were filed there on August 7, 2014. However, only the
first page of the affidavit and the search warrant were
received and filed. The second page of the affidavit,
containing the facts constituting probable cause, was not
received or filed.
was indicted for the offense on February 10, 2015. Appellant
filed a motion to suppress the evidence on March 26, 2015 and
an amended motion to suppress on April 2, 2015. He alleged
that the evidence seized pursuant to the warrant should be
suppressed because the complete affidavit supporting the
warrant had not been filed as required by Code §
19.2-54. Although initially finding the violation of the
filing requirement was a procedural matter, the trial court
ultimately concluded that the failure to file the complete
affidavit required suppression of the evidence.
Commonwealth moved for reconsideration of the trial
court's decision. It also argued that, notwithstanding
any violation of the statutory filing requirement, the good
faith exception to the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule
applied. The Commonwealth also contended probable cause and
exigent circumstances existed to justify a warrantless search
of appellant's property.
evidentiary hearing on the motion to reconsider, the
Commonwealth was unable to produce the original copy of the
second page of the search warrant affidavit. Placed before
the trial court, and made a part of the record, was the copy
of the affidavit Begley had retained. Begley's copy of
the affidavit differed from the document faxed to the circuit
court clerk in that Begley's copy did not contain the
handwritten notations that appellant's property was in
Madison Heights. The trial court declined to disturb its
prior ruling suppressing the evidence due to the violation of
Code § 19.2-54. The trial ...