This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






State of Minnesota,





Randy Lee Stevens,



Filed August 22, 2006


Worke, Judge


Pipestone County District Court

File No. K2-04-264


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, James B. Early, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and


James O’Neill, Pipestone County Attorney, 114 North Hiawatha, Pipestone, MN 56164 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Suzanne M. Senecal-Hill, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue SE, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

WORKE, Judge

            On appeal from a conviction of first-degree controlled-substance crime, appellant argues that the warrant to search his home was not supported by probable cause and that information from an informant did not provide probable cause to search for drugs.  We affirm.


            A controlled drug buy was conducted to purchase methamphetamine from J.C., a suspected methamphetamine dealer.  An officer met J.C. and arranged to purchase methamphetamine.  J.C. indicated that he would get the drugs and meet the officer later that day.  The officer then followed J.C. and observed him enter the residence of appellant Randy Lee Stevens.  Later, when J.C. met with the officer, J.C. phoned another individual who arrived with 2.5 pounds of methamphetamine.  J.C. was arrested.  J.C. told the officer that he stopped by appellant’s home earlier to deliver one gram of methamphetamine.  J.C. also stated that he had delivered methamphetamine to appellant four to six times within the previous nine months.    

            The following day, a search warrant was obtained to search appellant and his residence for evidence of the possession, purchase, or sale of controlled substances.  The supporting affidavit was based on the information provided by J.C. and the fact that the officer noticed a “surveillance camera” mounted on appellant’s roof.  During execution of the search warrant, officers discovered methamphetamine and other contraband in appellant’s home, including several small plastic baggies containing methamphetamine, tin-foil strips with residue on them, a digital scale, and working police scanners.  The methamphetamine was tested and determined to weigh 12.2 grams. 

            Appellant was charged with first-degree controlled-substance crime, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 1(1) (2004); second-degree controlled-substance crime, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.022, subd. 2(1) (2004); and use of police radios during the commission of a crime, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.856, subd. 1 (2004).  Appellant moved to suppress the evidence and dismiss the charges on the grounds that the search warrant was not supported by probable cause.  The district court denied appellant’s motion, finding that the warrant was supported by probable cause.  Appellant agreed to a stipulated-facts proceeding on the first-degree controlled-substance-crime charge under State v. Lothenbach, 296 N.W.2d 854 (Minn. 1980), and the state dismissed the remaining charges.  Appellant was found guilty and sentenced to 93 months in prison.


A search warrant may be issued only upon a finding of probable cause by a neutral and detached magistrate.  U.S. Const. Amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, § 10; Minn. Stat. § 626.08 (2004); see also State v. Harris, 589 N.W.2d 782, 787 (Minn. 1999).  We review the district court’s determination of probable cause to issue a search warrant to ensure that there was a substantial basis to conclude that probable cause existed.  Harris, 589 N.W.2d at 787-88.  Substantial basis in this context means a “fair probability,” given the totality of the circumstances, “that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.”  State v. Zanter, 535 N.W.2d 624, 633 (Minn. 1995) (quotation omitted).

Appellant argues that the search-warrant application did not establish J.C.’s reliability.  In determining whether probable cause exists, the issuing judge is to “make a practical, common-sense decision,” and to consider “all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit . . . including the veracity and basis of knowledge of persons supplying hearsay information.”  State v. Wiley, 366 N.W.2d 265, 268 (Minn. 1985) (quotation omitted).  Under the totality-of-the-circumstances test, components of the affidavit are not to be viewed in isolation.  Id.  And while “[r]easonable minds frequently may differ on the question of whether a particular affidavit establishes probable cause[,]” this court is “mindful that warrant affidavits are typically drafted by non-lawyers in the midst and haste of a criminal investigation.”  Harris, 589 N.W.2d at 791 (quotation omitted).  Therefore, warrant applications are not held to the same strict standards as pleadings.  Id.  An “explicit and detailed description of alleged wrongdoing, along with a statement that the event was observed first-hand, entitles [the] tip to greater weight than might otherwise be the case.”  Hanson v. State, 344 N.W.2d 420, 424 (Minn. App. 1984). 

            Here, the sufficiently detailed information provided by J.C. makes him a credible source.  J.C. stated that he had delivered methamphetamine to appellant four to six times in the nine months prior to J.C.’s arrest.  J.C. had also delivered methamphetamine to appellant on the day of J.C.’s arrest.  Further, J.C.’s information was corroborated by officers.  See State v. Ward, 580 N.W.2d 67, 71 (Minn. App. 1998) (“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”).  The search-warrant application referred to the fact that an officer observed a surveillance camera mounted on appellant’s roof and that he was aware that such cameras are used to alert individuals inside the home to the arrival of law enforcement in order to destroy evidence.

Appellant also argues that the district court relied on facts that were too stale to establish probable cause at the time of the search warrant.  While the supreme court has expressed “strong disapproval of the omission of time from an affidavit in support of a search warrant application[,] . . . under the totality of the circumstances test, such an omission is not per se fatal.”  Harris, 589 N.W.2d at 789 (quotation omitted).  When an application establishes a pattern of ongoing criminal activity, probable cause is not lacking due to staleness.  State v. Souto, 578 N.W.2d 744, 750 (Minn. 1998) (noting that the factors relating to staleness include whether there is an indication of ongoing criminal activity).  This court has “refused to set arbitrary time limits in obtaining a warrant or to substitute a rigid formula for the judge’s informed decision.” State v. Jannetta, 355 N.W.2d 189, 193 (Minn. App. 1984), review denied (Minn. Jan. 14, 1985).  In determining whether information supporting a search warrant is stale, the issuing judge must apply “practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act.” Id. (quoting Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160, 175, 69 S. Ct. 1302, 1310 (1949)).  “The court’s approach should be one of flexibility and common sense.”  Id.  Here, the search-warrant application establishes an ongoing pattern of criminal activity by referring to J.C.’s statements that after he met with an officer, he went to appellant’s residence to deliver one gram of methamphetamine, and that he had delivered methamphetamine to appellant four to six times in the nine months before J.C.’s arrest.  Additionally, officers provided “fresh” corroborating information after they observed J.C. stop at appellant’s home immediately after taking an order for methamphetamine.  Therefore, the search warrant was not lacking in probable cause due to staleness.

            When viewed in its totality, the facts support the issuing judge’s determination that probable cause existed to issue the search warrant; therefore, the district court did not err in denying appellant’s motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to the search warrant and to dismiss the charges against appellant for lack of probable cause.