State v. Howard
Evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia that police find in the trash, along with a tip from a confidential informant who previously has been credible, can provide probable cause for a search warrant. On Nov. 16, 2010, emergency dispatch received a call that indicated that a 17-year-old had smoked too much marijuana. The teen's mother informed police that her child allegedly had obtained the marijuana from Tommy Serrano. On Dec. 21, 2010, the police searched Serrano's trash for evidence of drug activity and found 1 gram of marijuana, tobacco shavings and proof of residency. On Jan. 18, 2011, the police again searched Serrano's trash for evidence of drug activity and found proof of residency, a marijuana stem, and a bag with marijuana residue. A confidential informant, who previously had proved credible, informed the police that Tommy Serrano's mother and the mother's boyfriend regularly traveled to Springfield, to pick up large amounts of marijuana. Police wrote in the application for a search warrant that individuals involved in the sale of drugs often dispose of drug-related materials in the trash. On January 19, Superior Court Judge Kevin Randolph signed a search warrant. Police executed the search warrant and seized a .32 caliber gun, drug paraphernalia, marijuana and $14,740 in cash. Police arrested Tommy Serrano, his mother and the defendant, Tashad Howard, who resided with the Serranos. The defendant moved to suppress and argued that the search warrant was deficient. Probable cause exists if: 1.) there is probable cause to believe that the particular items sought to be seized are connected with criminal activity or will assist in the apprehension or conviction; and 2.) there is probable cause to believe that the items sought to be seized will be found in the place to be searched. Probable cause existed to believe evidence of drug offenses would be discovered in the residence that was searched, and the court denied the defense motion to suppress.