Two officers applied for a warrant to search the defendant’s home for narcotics. Their affidavit recited that: “Affiants have received reliable information from a credible person and do believe that heroin, marijuana, barbiturates and other narcotics and narcotic paraphernalia are being kept at the above described premises for the purpose of sale and use contrary to the provisions of law.” The search warrant was issued and narcotics were found.
Whether the affidavit provided a sufficient basis for a finding of probable cause and issuance of a search warrant?
No. The affidavit did not provide reliable and credible facts on which probable cause could be based.
In determining the validity of a search warrant, a reviewing court may consider only the information brought to a magistrate’s attention. A requesting officer must establish facts for a magistrate judge to consider whether probable cause exists or not. The Fourth Amendment does not deny law enforcement the support of usual inferences that reasonable persons may draw from evidence. It does, however, require such inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate instead of an officer engaged in the competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime.
An affidavit for a search warrant may be based on hearsay information and need not reflect direct personal observations of the affiant. But the magistrate must be informed of some of the underlying circumstances on which the informant based conclusions and some of the underlying circumstances from which an officer concluded that the informant, whose identity need not be disclosed, was “credible” or that his information was reliable. Although the reviewing court will grant substantial deference to judicial determinations of probable cause, the court must still insist that the magistrate perform a “neutral and detached” function and not serve merely as a “rubber stamp.”
378 U.S. 108, 84 S. Ct. 1509 (1964)