This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Susanne Jean Beutz,
Filed January 17, 2006
Mille Lacs County District Court
File No. K1-04-778
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Janice S. Kolb, Mille Lacs County Attorney, Mark Herzing, Assistant County Attorney, Christopher J. Zipko, Assistant County Attorney, 525 Second Street S.E., Milaca, MN 56353 (for appellant)
Andrew S. Birrell, Birrell & Newmark, Ltd.,
Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Worke, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
This appeal is from a pretrial order suppressing all evidence seized pursuant to search warrants and dismissing the complaint charging a controlled-substance offense. Appellant argues that the district court clearly erred, and engaged in a hyper-technical review of the warrant applications when it ruled that the information given by three concerned citizens, along with police corroboration of some details and information from a concerned citizen, did not provide sufficient probable cause to issue the search warrants. Because we conclude that the issuing judge had a substantial basis for concluding that probable cause existed to issue the search warrants (under the totality-of-the-circumstances), we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
D E C I S I O N
On appeal from a pretrial order
suppressing evidence, the state must demonstrate “that the district court has
clearly and unequivocally erred and that the error, unless reversed, will have
a critical impact on the state’s ability to successfully prosecute the
defendant.” State v. Horner, 617 N.W.2d 789, 792 (
A search warrant may be
issued only upon a finding of probable cause by a neutral and detached
determine whether probable cause exists, “[t]he task of the issuing [judge] is
simply to make a practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the
circumstances set forth in the affidavit, . . . including the ‘veracity’ and
‘basis of knowledge’ of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair
probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a
particular place.” State
v. Wiley, 366 N.W.2d 265,
argues that the district court erred by ruling that the search warrant is
“devoid of any time frame reference.”
Due to the lack of a time-frame reference, citing State v. Harris, 589 N.W.2d 782 (
the search warrant referenced information obtained in November 2002 regarding a
methamphetamine cooking operation. The
information, received by the undersheriff from a concerned citizen, contained
details on a residence in
According to the search-warrant application, nothing further occurred until June 14, 2004, when an investigator received information from a third concerned citizen who would only speak to law enforcement on the strict condition of anonymity out of fear for his or her own and his or her family’s safety. The concerned citizen had a very detailed and intimate knowledge of the manufacturing of methamphetamine by individuals residing at the property. In addition, the concerned citizen named the co-defendant Alroy Heddan, and respondent as the residents of the property. The residency information was verified by law enforcement through property records and the Department of Motor Vehicles. The concerned citizen stated that the information regarding the cooking operation had been obtained within the past 30 days.
The affidavit in support of the search-warrant application reflects a time-frame of approximately 18 months with information from several different informants regarding respondent’s methamphetamine-manufacturing operation. While the information from the first two concerned citizens was received in 2002, the investigator did receive “fresh” information from a third concerned citizen which had been obtained within 30 days prior to the application for the search warrant. Because the affidavit shows that respondent’s methamphetamine-manufacturing operation was ongoing criminal activity, and the investigator received “fresh” information that corroborated the first two concerned citizens’ information within one month prior to requesting the search warrant, the search warrant was not lacking in probable cause due to staleness.
b. Reliability of Information
Appellant argues that the district court erred by ruling that under the totality of the circumstances, inaccurate information from the investigator, along with unreliable information from the informants, rendered the warrants constitutionally defective.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has
acknowledged that while “[r]easonable minds frequently may differ on the
question of whether a particular affidavit establishes probable cause[,]”
reviewing courts must be “mindful that warrant affidavits are typically drafted
in the midst and haste of a criminal investigation.” Harris, 589 N.W.2d at 791. Therefore, warrant applications are not held
to the same strict standards as pleadings.
Here, the concerned citizens’ information was highly detailed. One of the concerned citizens had actually purchased drugs from respondent, and one or more of the concerned citizens described respondent’s property and respondent’s manufacturing process in intricate detail including comprehensive details regarding the process, ingredients in respondent’s possession, and the names of individuals involved in the manufacturing and distribution processes. The explicit and detailed information provided by the concerned citizens makes them credible sources. Further, information provided by the concerned citizens was corroborated by the investigator.
“An informant’s reliability may be
established by sufficient police corroboration of the information supplied, and
corroboration of even minor details can lend credence to the informant’s
information where the police know the identity of the informant.” State
v. Ward, 580 N.W.2d 67, 71 (
Because this information, when viewed in its totality, supports the issuing judge’s determination that probable cause existed to issue the search warrant, the district court erred in granting respondent’s motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to the search warrant and erred in dismissing the charges against respondent for lack of probable cause.
Reversed and remanded.