A magistrate issuing a search warrant need not be convinced of the presence of contraband at a premises. A substantial basis for him to conclude that contraband is probably present at the premises is sufficient. Corroboration through other sources of information reduces the chances of a reckless or prevaricating tale.
Defendant was found guilty of violating federal narcotics statutes, which permit conviction upon proof of possession of narcotics. Defendant unsuccessfully contended that the narcotics admitted in evidence against him were the product of an illegal search and seizure on the ground that they had been seized pursuant to a search warrant issued without a showing of probable cause.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained through the execution of the search warrant on the grounds that he lacked standing to make the motion. Defendant challenged the denial of the motion to suppress and his conviction. The Court vacated the appellate court's decision and the case was remanded to the district court to consider defendant's contention that the search warrant was not properly executed.
Did the district court err in its failure to consider whether there was sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for the search?
The Court held that the possession with which defendant was charged gave him standing. Because the indictment charged possession, he was a "person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure" when he filed his motion to suppress. The government's interest in the effective enforcement of the law was not hampered by the recognition that defendant, who was legitimately on the premises where the search occurred, could challenge the legality of the search in a motion to suppress when the fruits of the search were to be used against him. The affidavit upon which the warrant was based was not insufficient if there was a substantial basis for crediting the hearsay upon which it was based. Defendant's claim depended upon the particular circumstances surrounding the execution of the warrant.