EASTERBROOK, Chief Judge.
After they arrested Francisco Cazares-Olivas and Israel Aguilera for drug offenses, federal agents sought a warrant to search the house where, the agents believed, Cazares-Olivas and Aguilera kept their inventory. It was after 11 pm, and the agents feared that if they waited until morning someone else might beat them to the stash. One agent and an Assistant United States Attorney called a federal magistrate judge at 11;37 pm. During a recorded conversation the agent took an oath to tell the truth and laid out facts that, the judge found, established probable cause for a search. The judge questioned the agent, obtained additional information, and eventually wrapped up the conversation this way: "the bottom line is you've got judicial authorization. It is so ordered. You can send your team in right now." The search, begun at 1:47 am and finished at 4:25 am, turned up more than 40 kilograms of cocaine. Cazares-Olivas and Aguilera pleaded guilty to possessing more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute; each was sentenced to 125 months' imprisonment. Conditional pleas reserved the right to contest the denial of the motion to suppress the evidence found during the search. See Fed.R.Crim.P. 11(a)(2).
Telephonic warrants are authorized by Fed.R.Crim.P. 41. An agent is supposed to fill out a form (called a "proposed duplicate' original warrant") and must "read or otherwise transmit the contents
The absence of a warrant is the beginning and ending of the defendants' argument that the evidence must be suppressed. Residential entries are presumptively unreasonable, and thus violate the fourth amendment, unless authorized by a warrant. E.g., Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 63 L.Ed.2d 639 (1980). There are exceptions—such as a resident's consent, or circumstances that justify action before a warrant can be obtained (e.g., ongoing or impending destruction of evidence)—none of which applies here. Only a need for haste is even in the picture, but the fact that the agents were able to invoke the Rule 41 procedure shows that they did not deem the situation pressing enough to dispense with a warrant. Defendants principally rely on Groh v. Ramirez, 540 U.S. 551, 124 S.Ct. 1284, 157 L.Ed.2d 1068 (2004), which held that absence from a warrant of the constitutionally particular description of "the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" meant that there was no warrant as a functional matter. 540 U.S. at 559, 124 S.Ct. 1284. If the omission of some language spoils a warrant, defendants inquire, what are we to make of the situation in which nothing has been written down?
What we make of it, like the magistrate judge and the district judge, is that this search occurred without a warrant. We assume (without deciding) that this omission made the search unreasonable and exposed the agents to a suit for damages. But it does not follow that the evidence is inadmissible. The exclusionary rule is used for only a subset of constitutional errors. For two prominent examples, consider United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677 (1984), which holds that evidence seized in good faith, in reliance on a warrant that turns out to be invalid, is admissible, and Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431, 104 S.Ct. 2501, 81 L.Ed.2d 377 (1984), which holds that evidence is admissible when it would have been discovered inevitably through lawful means. These decisions reflect the view that permitting people to get away with crime is too high a price to pay for errors that either do not play any causal role in the seizure (the inevitable-discovery situation) or stem from negligence rather than disdain for constitutional requirements (the Leon situation). As the Court put it in Nix, "the interest of society in deterring unlawful police conduct and the public interest in having juries receive all probative evidence of a crime are properly balanced by putting the police in the same, and not a worse, position than they would have been in had no police error or misconduct occurred." 467 U.S. at 443, 104 S.Ct. 2501 (emphasis in original; footnote omitted).
What the Court said in Hudson and Nix is equally apt today. Had the magistrate judge written out and signed a warrant after hanging up the phone, everything would have proceeded exactly as it did. The agents would have conducted the same search and found the same evidence. True, the agents would not have had a warrant (even an unsigned "proposed duplicate original warrant") with them, but appearing empty handed neither affected the search nor violated the Constitution. The fourth amendment reads in full: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." It does not require officers to carry warrants with them, and the Court stressed in United States v. Grubbs, 547 U.S. 90, 126 S.Ct. 1494, 164 L.Ed.2d 195 (2006), that judges must not add to the Constitution's requirements.
A court of appeals had held that, in addition to "particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized", a warrant must recite the "triggering condition" for a conditional search. The Justices thought the, addition unsound and observed along the way that the fourth amendment does not require the officers to carry or display a paper warrant (547 U.S. at 98-99, 126 S.Ct. 1494):
Exactly so here. Cazares-Olivas and Aguilera received the benefit of a magistrate judge's impartial evaluation before the search occurred. The search was supported by probable cause—on a record fixed, and supported by an oath, in advance, to prevent hindsight from being invoked to justify the search. An agent
What remains is the violation of Rule 41. The agents did not prepare and read to the judge a "proposed duplicate original warrant". The judge did not prepare and sign an original warrant. But violations of federal rules do not justify the exclusion of evidence that has been seized on the basis of probable cause, and with advance judicial approval. So we held for Rule 41 in particular in United States v. Trost, 152 F.3d 715, 722 (7th Cir.1998). Accord, United States v. Rome, 809 F.2d 665 (10th Cir.1987). See also, e.g., United States v. Caceres, 440 U.S. 741, 99 S.Ct. 1465, 59 L.Ed.2d 733 (1979) (violation of statutory requirements that go beyond the Constitution's demands does not justify the suppression of evidence unless the statute itself specifies this remedy). The violation of Rule 41 is regrettable but unlikely to recur. Allowing these defendants to go free would be a remedy wildly out of proportion to the wrong, which caused them no injury.