US v Perkins – 6th Circuit (4APR2018)

US v Perkins – 6th Circuit (4APR2018)

Based on a drug K9 alert, DEA agents discovered a package that contained methamphetamine. The package was addressed to the defendant in this case. Furthermore, a trusted confidential informant provided information that the defendant was a methamphetamine dealer, which was also known to local law enforcement. Based on all this information, DEA obtained an “anticipatory warrant” to search Perkins residence. An anticipatory search warrant differs from a traditional search warrant. Traditional warrants issue upon a showing of probable cause. By contrast, an anticipatory warrant only becomes effective upon the happening of some future event—a “triggering condition”—which establishes probable cause for the search.

In this particular anticipatory warrant, the trigger condition was a controlled delivery with a DEA agent posing as a FedEx driver. The triggering event was for the DEA agent to hand deliver the package to the defendant.  In other words, when the package containing methamphetamine was placed in the hands of the defendant then the officers could search the residence under the warrant.

Notwithstanding this plan and the triggering event of this anticipatory search warrant, the package was delivered to Perkins fiancé when she opened the door and was not placed into Perkins hands. When Perkins fiancé received the package, the officers executed the search. Perkins was not there at the time the search started and did not arrive at the residence until about an hour after the package was delivered. The District Court granted the defendants motion to suppress ruling that the triggering event to establish the probable cause to execute the search warrant of the premises did not occur and therefore the warrant was not valid at the time of the search. Although the courts do not always require strict compliance with the triggering events and sometimes use a common-sense application, in this case the Sixth Circuit stated that the only common sense reading of the warrants triggering event required hand delivery to Perkins himself. Accordingly, the district court’s ruling suppressing the evidence was affirmed.

For a PDF version of the full opinion, click here.