Anticipatory Search Warrants: Why Must There Be Probable Cause That the Triggering Condition Will Happen?

In preparation for some upcoming teaching, I’ve been brushing up on anticipatory search warrants. Such warrants authorize a search, but only once a “triggering condition” takes place. The most common scenario involves the controlled delivery of drugs that have been intercepted in transit. The warrant authorizes the search of the destination residence, but only once the drugs have been delivered. Case law establishes that a warrant may issue only if the drugs are on a “sure course” towards delivery. This post asks why – and whether – that should be the case.

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