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.