In 2010, Deputy Ralph Sciple of the Neshoba County Sheriff’s Department received information from a confidential informant indicating that Benjamin Cooper was selling methamphetamine from his house. Sciple testified that this confidential informant had provided credible information in the past that led to arrests and convictions.
The informant stated that he saw methamphetamine being sold in the residence at 14 Eastover Drive, Philadelphia, MS 39350, within the past 24 hours. Based on the information obtained from the confidential informant, Sciple prepared a search warrant, affidavit, and supporting underlying facts and circumstances.
About a half hour after Judge Cumberland signed the search warrant, Sciple and other officers executed the search warrant at Cooper’s residence. Officers discovered a plastic bag containing a white substance in Cooper’s bedroom, which was later tested and confirmed to be .5 grams of methamphetamine.
Cooper was arrested and taken into custody. After waiving his Miranda1 rights, Cooper made the following signed, written statement: “The meth that was found in my bedroom on 3-24-10 was mine for personal use. I do not sell meth.”
Cooper was convicted of possession of methamphetamine and sentenced to eight years. On appeal, he argued the informant was not reliable and so the warrant should have been suppressed. MCOA affirmed.
In Phinizee, we said that a search warrant is validly issued when based upon probable cause. The standard for determining the existence of probable cause for a search warrant based on an informant is the totality of the circumstances.
In Woods, the MSC said that probable cause means more than a bare suspicion but less than evidence that would justify condemnation. Woods also said that the veracity of a confidential informant may be established by a statement of the affiant that the confidential informant has given credible information in the past.
In this case, Sciple submitted a statement of underlying facts and circumstances to support the issuance of the search warrant, which read in part:
The affiant states the following facts to wit: On 03-24-10[,] Inv. Sciple met with a confidential informant that Inv. Sciple knows to be a credible person [who] has given creditable information in the past that has led to arrest[s] and convictions. The informant gave the following information[:] the informant stated that he/she saw drugs, [m]ethamphetamine[,] being sold in the residence at 14 Eastover Drive[,] Philadelphia, MS 39350, this being within the past 24 hours. With this information[,] the affiant request[s] a search warrant be issued for 14 Eastover Drive[,] Philadelphia, MS 39350 to include all vehicles and out buildings [sic].
Further, Sciple testified that the confidential informant had provided reliable information in the past, leading to arrests and convictions. Under the totality of the circumstances, we find that there was sufficient evidence of the confidential informant’s veracity, and that the justice court judge had a substantial basis for concluding that probable cause existed. Therefore, we affirm.