Over the past several years a trend has developed enabling law enforcement to obtain search warrants for homes based on anonymous tips. Tipsters using apps that connect to local police departments provide information that the cops otherwise would not have had. The application is downloaded to smartphones and has several features geared towards improving public safety. Among these features are the ability to submit tips, ask questions, comment on police conduct or misconduct and access a local police department website. In a recent case in Peabody, Massachusetts a tipster used MyPD to complain to the police about suspected drug activity. In this case the investigation resulted in a search warrant execution and felony drug arrests of a juvenile and an adult. This post examines whether the police officer’s observations establish proper probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant.
Does An Anonymous Tip Provide Sufficient Information To Establish Probable For the Issuance of a Search Warrant in Massachusetts?
The tip in this case resulted in a drug investigation. Detectives set up a surveillance operation outside the home of the suspect. They observed unusually high visitor volume and consequently obtained a warrant to search a home. The search resulted in the seizure of a quantity of drugs sufficient to charge heroin trafficking as well as possession of cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute another drug. Steven Bossler of Peabody and another were arrested in connection with the crimes. So the question in this case is “does the anonymous tip suffice to provide probable cause?” The simple answer is no; at least not by itself. Both Massachusetts and federal law state that tips coming from an unnamed source are unreliable and deficient unless corroborated by the officer’s observations. In Bossler’s case, at least as to the search warrant the real issue will be whether seeing high traffic in and out of a home is enough. Standing alone that probably will not be sufficient. If the police made other discoveries, i.e. seeing transactions, checking into the criminal record of the home’s occupants, seeing know drug users or sellers among the visitors, executing a controlled buy then the analysis changes some. Regardless, Bossler will want to file a motion to suppress the search and challenge the legality of the warrant.
What Are Some Other Possible Defenses to This Case?
For one thing we do not know what leads the police to believe that Bossler committed this crime as opposed to the seventeen year old juvenile. How many visitors actually entered the home? Can they be identified in police reports either by name, photo or license plate information? What if anything did the occupants say when the search warrant was served? Where exactly were the drugs when the police entered the home? Where were the occupants when the police entered the home. If the motion to suppress is unsuccessful the answers to these questions will direct the defense in this case.
Hire An Essex County Superior Court Drug Defense Lawyer
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, PC defends drug cases. No matter how serious the case or how strong the evidence of guilt is, we are able to defend our clients. Call us at 617-263-6800 or email us if you want to discuss defenses to your case.