Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

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E.g., 10/18/2021
E.g., 10/18/2021
State v. Lowe, 369 N.C. 360 (Dec. 21, 2016)

Affirming the Court of Appeals, the court held that a search warrant authorizing a search of the premises where the defendant was arrested was supported by probable cause. The affidavit stated that officers received an anonymous tip that Michael Turner was selling, using and storing narcotics at his house; that Turner had a history of drug related arrests; and that a detective discovered marijuana residue in the trash from Turner’s residence, along with correspondence addressed to Turner. Under the totality of the circumstances there was probable cause to search the home for controlled substances.

State v. Allman, 369 N.C. 292 (Dec. 21, 2016)

Reversing the Court of Appeals, the court held that because the magistrate had a substantial basis to find that probable cause existed to issue the search warrant, the trial court erred by granting the defendant’s motion to suppress. The affidavit stated that an officer stopped a car driven by Jeremy Black. Black’s half-brother Sean Whitehead was a passenger. After K-9 alerted on the car, a search found 8.1 ounces of marijuana packaged in a Ziploc bag and $1600 in cash. The Ziploc bag containing marijuana was inside a vacuum sealed bag, which in turn was inside a manila envelope. Both individuals had previously been charged on several occasions with drug crimes. Whitehead maintained that the two lived at Twin Oaks Dr. The officer went to that address and found that although neither individual lived there, their mother did. The mother informed the officer that the men lived at 4844 Acres Drive and had not lived at Twin Oaks Drive for years. Another officer went to the Acres Drive premises and determined that its description matched that given by the mother and that a truck outside the house was registered to Black. The officer had experience with drug investigations and, based on his training and experience, knew that drug dealers typically keep evidence of drug dealing at their homes. Supported by the affidavit, the officer applied for and received a search warrant to search the Acres Drive home. Drugs and paraphernalia were found. Based on the quantity of marijuana and the amount of cash found in the car, the fact that the marijuana appeared to be packaged for sale, and Whitehead’s and Black’s criminal histories, it was reasonable for the magistrate to infer that the brothers were drug dealers. Based on the mother’s statement that the two lived at the Acres Drive premises, the fact that her description of that home matched its actual appearance, and that one of the trucks there was registered to Black, it was reasonable for the magistrate to infer that the two lived there. And based on the insight from the officer’s training and experience that evidence of drug dealing was likely to be found at their home and that Whitehead lied about where the two lived, it was reasonable for the magistrate to infer that there could be evidence of drug dealing at the Acres Drive premises. Although nothing in the affidavit directly connected the defendant’s home with evidence of drug dealing, federal circuit courts have held that a suspect drug dealer’s lie about his address in combination with other evidence of drug dealing can give rise to probable cause to search his home. Thus, under the totality of the circumstances there was probable cause to support search warrant.

State v. McKinney, 368 N.C. 161 (Aug. 21, 2015)

Reversing the court of appeals in this drug case, the court held that the trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion to suppress, finding that probable cause existed to justify issuance of a search warrant authorizing a search of defendant’s apartment. The application was based on the following evidence: an anonymous citizen reported observing suspected drug-related activity at and around the apartment; the officer then saw an individual named Foushee come to the apartment and leave after six minutes; Foushee was searched and, after he was found with marijuana and a large amount of cash, arrested; and a search of Fouchee’s phone revealed text messages between Foushee and an individual named Chad proposing a drug transaction. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the citizen’s complaint was unreliable because it gave no indication when the citizen observed the events, that the complaint was only a “naked assertion” that the observed activities were narcotics related, and that the State failed to establish a nexus between Foushee’s vehicle and defendant’s apartment, finding none of these arguments persuasive, individually or collectively. The court held that “under the totality of circumstances, all the evidence described in the affidavit both established a substantial nexus between the marijuana remnants recovered from Foushee’s vehicle and defendant’s residence, and also was sufficient to support the magistrate’s finding of probable cause to search defendant’s apartment.”

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