State v. Brody, ___ N.C. App. ___, 796 S.E.2d 384 (Feb. 7, 2017)

In this drug case, a search warrant application relying principally upon information obtained from a confidential informant was sufficient to support a magistrate’s finding of probable cause and a subsequent search of the defendant’s home. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the affidavit failed to show that the confidential informant was reliable and that drugs were likely to be found in the home. The affidavit stated that investigators had known the confidential informant for two weeks, that the informant had previously provided them with information regarding other people involved in drug trafficking and that the detective considered the informant to be reliable. The confidential informant had demonstrated to the detective that he was familiar with drug pricing and how controlled substances are packaged and sold for distribution. Moreover, the informant had previously arranged, negotiated and purchased cocaine from the defendant under the detective’s direct supervision. Additionally, the confidential informant told the detective that he had visited the defendant’s home approximately 30 times, including within 48 hours before the affidavit was prepared, and saw the defendant possessing and selling cocaine each time. The court noted: “The fact that the affidavit did not describe the precise outcomes of the previous tips from the [informant] did not preclude a determination that the [informant] was reliable.” It added: “although a general averment that an informant is ‘reliable’ -- taken alone -- might raise questions as to the basis for such an assertion,” the fact that the detective also specifically stated that investigators had received information from the informant in the past “allows for a reasonable inference that such information demonstrated the [confidential informant’s] reliability.” Moreover, the detective had further opportunity to gauge his reliability when the informant arranged, negotiated and purchased cocaine from the defendant under the detective’s supervision.

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