One of the most common grounds on which individuals in Massachusetts defend against drug charges is when involved law enforcement lacked probable cause for their arrest.
A state appellate court recently wrote a decision in a drug case concerning whether law enforcement lacked probable cause in obtaining a warrant to search a person’s apartment. The court ultimately ruled that information provided to law enforcement constituted probable cause.
How the Case Arose
Law enforcement was given information by a confidential informant that the defendant in this case was selling illegal drugs from his apartment. The informant also provided law enforcement with a description of the defendant in addition to his name and address.
Law enforcement later arranged for the informant to purchase drugs from the defendant. After the informant reported that he purchased the drugs from the defendant, law enforcement obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s apartment. After executing the warrant, law enforcement found narcotics as well as paraphernalia.
In a pre-trial motion to suppress, the defendant argued that the search warrant was defective because law enforcement had failed to establish that probable cause existed at the time that the warrant was obtained. In support of his argument, the defendant claimed that law enforcement failed to establish that the man had entered his apartment or obtained the drugs in question from his apartment.
The Response by the Appellate Court
The appellate court began its opinion by noting that law enforcement is required to establish an informant’s basis of knowledge as well the informant’s veracity (or ability to be trusted) before a valid search warrant can be obtained.
While the defendant acknowledged that law enforcement had satisfied the basis of knowledge prong because the informant had told law enforcement that he had recently purchased cocaine from the defendant, the defendant argued that law enforcement had failed to satisfy the veracity prong of this test. The court then noted that law enforcement is able to establish an informant’s veracity through controlled buys or situations in which the informant purchases drugs from the person suspected of selling drugs.
As previously mentioned, the defendant argued that the buy was improper because law enforcement had failed to watch the informant enter the defendant’s home. The appellate court responded by rejecting the defendant’s argument and held that because law enforcement had watched the informant walk toward the door and return soon after with illegal drugs, it was sufficient enough to constitute probable cause for a warrant to enter and search the defendant’s apartment.
Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a crime in Massachusetts, one of the best steps to take is to quickly obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Edward Molari is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has helped defend the rights of numerous individuals charged with felony and misdemeanor or drug crimes. Contact our law office today for assistance.