State v. Teague, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 239 (Jun. 5, 2018)

In this drug case, the court held that the affidavit provided sufficient probable cause for a search of the residence in question. The affidavit indicated that after the officer received an anonymous tip that drugs were being sold at the residence, he conducted a “refuse investigation” at the premises. The defendant asserted that this information was stale and could not properly support issuance of the warrant. The court noted that although the affidavit does not state when or over what period of time the tipster observed criminal activity at the residence, when the tipster relayed the information to the police or the exact date when the officer conducted the refuse search, the affidavit was based on more than just this information. Specifically, it included details regarding database searches indicating that the defendant had a waste and water utility account at the residence, that the defendant lived at the residence, that the officer was familiar with the residence and the defendant from his previous assignment as a patrol officer, and recounted the defendant’s prior drug charges. To the extent the information in the anonymous tip was stale, it was later corroborated by the refuse search in which the officer found a cup containing marijuana residue, plastic bags containing marijuana residue and a butane gas container that the officer said is consistent with potential manufacturing of butane hash oil. Also the affidavit stated that the officer conducted the refuse investigation on Thursday, “regular refuse day.” A common sense reading of the affidavit would indicate that this referred to the most recent Thursday, the date the affidavit was completed. The court continued noting that even if the anonymous tip was so stale as to be unreliable, the marijuana-related items obtained from the refuse search, the defendant’s criminal history, and the database searches linking the defendant to the residence provided a substantial basis upon which the magistrate could determine that probable cause existed.