Controlled Buys, Middlemen, and Probable Cause

Last week, the Court of Appeals of North Carolina decided State v. Frederick, a case about whether a controlled purchase of drugs provided probable cause to issue a search warrant. Before you say “the answer is yes, that fact pattern happens all the time,” be aware that Frederick presents a wrinkle. The wrinkle is that the controlled buy was conducted not by a confidential informant, but by an unknown “middleman” who the informant drove to the suspect’s home. Does the injection of an intermediary undermine probable cause? Read on to find out!

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Waiver of Counsel: A Quick Refresher

In addition to contributing to this blog, I publish summaries of N.C. appellate court and U.S. Supreme Court decisions through my Criminal Law Listserv (you can sign up for those emails here). That job involves reading a lot of cases and probably explains why my eyeglass prescription has been getting steadily stronger. But a side … Read more