State v. Rayfield, 231 N.C. App. 632 (Jan. 7, 2014)

In this child sex case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant authorizing a search of his house. The victim told the police about various incidents occurring in several locations (the defendant’s home, a motel, etc.) from the time that she was eight years old until she was eleven. The affidavit alleged that the defendant had shown the victim pornographic videos and images in his home. The affidavit noted that the defendant is a registered sex offender and requested a search warrant to search his home for magazines, videos, computers, cell phones, and thumb drives. The court first rejected the defendant’s argument that the victim’s information to the officers was stale, given the lengthy gap of time between when the defendant allegedly showed the victim the images and the actual search. It concluded: “Although [the victim] was generally unable to provide dates to the attesting officers . . . her allegations of inappropriate sexual touching by Defendant over a sustained period of time allowed the magistrate to reasonably conclude that probable cause was present to justify the search of Defendant’s residence.” It went on to note that “when items to be searched are not inherently incriminating [as here] and have enduring utility for the person to be searched, a reasonably prudent magistrate could conclude that the items can be found in the area to be searched.” It concluded:

There was no reason for the magistrate in this case to conclude that Defendant would have felt the need to dispose of the evidence sought even though acts associated with that evidence were committed years earlier. Indeed, a practical assessment of the information contained in the warrant would lead a reasonably prudent magistrate to conclude that the computers, cameras, accessories, and photographs were likely located in Defendant’s home even though certain allegations made in the affidavit referred to acts committed years before.