Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Warrant Affidavit – Heroin Sale – Return Home

Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Warrant Affidavit – Heroin Sale – Return Home


After law enforcement officers witnessed defendant’s roommates make a heroin sale, the officers split up to follow both the buyer and the sellers. The buyer admitted to buying heroin, and the sellers returned to the home they shared with defendant. This scenario justified a warrant to search defendant’s home.

We affirm the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress.

It is reasonable to infer that the sellers went to the residence with the $20 the buyer admitted she used to obtain the heroin. This money was evidence of the drug transaction, and the magistrate could reasonably infer that this evidence would be present at the residence.

Moreover, it would also be reasonable to infer that the two drug dealers whom investigators had just observed sell heroin, and who were known by detectives to be involved in drug activity, would have other additional drugs or paraphernalia stored in their residence or vehicle. The practical considerations involved in selling quantities of heroin require that the product be cut, weighed, and packaged at some location. Common sense suggests that the sellers’ blue Jeep Compass is not the ideal location for such activity, and that a residence is where this type of preparation would take place.

Moreover, it is highly unlikely that individuals who are involved in the sale of illegal drugs would trust others in the business to hold their product. Even though not stated in the affidavit, it is also common sense that drug dealers typically keep evidence of drug dealing at their homes.

The dissent’s assertion that there is no nexus here ignores the totality of the evidence and the inferences which could be reasonably drawn from the facts set forth in the affidavit. The dissent would also ignore the great deference that should be afforded to the magistrate’s determination in favor of after-the-fact scrutiny in the form of de novo review. This is not permitted.



(Zachary, J.) In that the search warrant application sought to search defendant’s home based solely upon an allegation that his two roommates had recently sold narcotics from a different location, the magistrate did not have a substantial basis for concluding that probable cause existed to search the home.

The affidavit included no information indicating that drugs had been possessed in or sold from the residence and failed to establish a nexus between the residence and the narcotics being sought. I would reverse.

State v. Bailey (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-218-19, 18 pp.) (Philip Berger, J.) (Valerie Zachary, J., dissenting) Appealed from Carteret County Superior Court (Charles Henry, J.) Jessica Macari for the state; Richard Croutharmel for defendant. N.C. App.


Top Legal News

See All Top Legal News


See All Commentary