Affidavit was not bare-boned and thus good faith exception applies


Tylan Tilford entered a conditional guilty plea to possessing a firearm as a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress evidence recovered from his residence pursuant to a search warrant. He contends the district court erred by applying the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule because the affidavit for the search warrant was so lacking in probable cause that belief in its existence was unreasonable; and the warrant was not supported by probable cause. The 5’th affirmed.


The affidavit provided that law enforcement conducted several controlled purchases of marihuana from someone they suspected of drug activity. Prior to the most recent controlled purchase, officers established surveillance at three residences, one of those later identified as Tilford’s. Approximately 30 minutes after the confidential informant reached out to the suspected dealer to buy marihuana, the suspected dealer drove to, and entered, Tilford’s residence, and exited approximately 1 minute later with a bulge in his pants. The controlled purchase was then conducted, and according to the affiant: the above- described activity was consistent with the suspected dealer’s patterns of movement during several of the previously mentioned controlled purchases and surveillance operations.

Contrary to Tilford’s contentions, the affidavit was more than “barebones” because it supplied specific facts regarding an investigation from August 2019 to March 2020 of an ongoing drug enterprise that supported the reasonable inference Tilford’s residence was being used as a stash house for that criminal activity. See United States v. May, 819 F.2d 531 (5th Cir. 1987) (evaluating the sufficiency of an affidavit accompanying an application for search warrant requires a commonsense approach and officer may draw reasonable inferences); United States v. Garcia, 27 F.3d 1009 (5th Cir. 1994) (requisite nexus between house to be searched and the evidence sought may be established through normal inferences).

Additionally, although Tilford maintains the affidavit provides the suspected dealer visited his residence merely once, which is insufficient to connect him to any criminal activity, Tilford’s residence being one of three locations placed under surveillance prior to the above-described purchase supports the reasonable inference that stopping at his residence was part of the suspected dealer’s pattern of movement during several of the controlled purchases.

Therefore, Tilford’s reliance on Hython (6’th circuit case) is unpersuasive for reasons recognized by that panel: reliance on the warrant in that case might have been reasonable if the affidavit included allegations (like those in this instance) of an ongoing investigation into an ongoing criminal enterprise.

Reading the affidavit in the requisite commonsense manner, the district court did not err in applying the good-faith exception based on the four corners of the affidavit. See Huerra – A reasonable officer could have relied on the warrant in good faith.

Because the good-faith exception applies, we need not address whether the warrant was supported by probable cause.