New York Appellate Lawyer

48 Wall Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10005

Federal Criminal Appeals Throughout The United States and
New York State Criminal Appeals.

Located at 48 Wall Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY! 1-800-APPEALS (277-3257)

Darden Hearing: Was Probable Cause Supplied By a Confidential Informant?


Darden Hearing: Was Probable Cause Supplied By a Confidential Informant?

 

 

People v CrooksFederal-Criminal-Appeals

New York Court of Appeals

27 NY3d 609

Decided on June 23, 2016

 

Issue: Whether police relied on a confidential informant’s statements to establish probable cause for a search warrant, which would require a Darden hearing, or whether police relied on independent sources to establish probable cause, making a Darden hearing unnecessary.

 

Holding: The Court of Appeals held that the police did not rely on the CI’s statements to establish probable cause for a search warrant, but rather, police relied on independent sources to establish probable cause, making a Darden hearing unnecessary.

 

Facts: A confidenwarrat issuedtial informant (CI) approached detective James Wood with information on an individual who he believed was selling drugs. The police confirmed the suspected individual’s place of residence with the CI by comparing photographs of the apartment building. Wood arranged a drug buy between the CI and the defendant at the apartment. Detective Wood listened to an audio feed of the transaction. There was no visual observance, only audio. After the
transaction, the substance tested positive for cocaine. A second controlled drug buy took place where the substance once again tested positive for cocaine. This time, however, the defendant changed the location, and detectives followed both the CI and the defendant. The detectives followed and observed the defendant and CI both visually and by audio feed.

Detective Wood submitted a search warrant affidavit and a judge signed the warrant. At the residence, detectives saw the defendant throw a plastic bag out a window. Detectives later found that bag to contain cocaine. The suspected individual was not charged with the two drug transactions?but was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and two counts of criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree.handcuffs

After a Mapp hearing, the defendant requested a Darden hearing but was denied by the County Court. The County Court found a Darden hearing unnecessary because the CI’s statements to the police provided a reasonable cause for the search, but they did not rely on those statements for the arrest. The trial court convicted the defendant of drug possession and sentenced him to eight years in prison and three years post-release supervision.

“The detectives’ independent observations, therefore, established probable cause making a Darden hearing unnecessary.”

 

Legal Analysis: The purpose of a Darden hearing is to confirm the CI’s existence and to ensure statements are not fabricated by officials?while protecting the CI’s identity. If, however, probable cause is not contingent on the CI’s statements, a?Darden?hearing is deemed unnecessary (see Edwards, 95 NY2d at 493;?Serrano, 93 NY2d at 77). The Court of Appeals held that a Darden hearing was not required because the police established probable cause regardless of the CI’s statements.

People v Adrion and People v Farrow are two cases that produced very distinct outcomes. In People v Adrion (82 NY2d 628 [1993]), the Court of Appeals held that the CI’s tip was necessary to establish probable cause because the police only had reasonable suspicion for the defendant (not reasonable cause) without the information from the CI. On the other hand, People v Farrow includes a more similar set of facts to the case at bar. After receiving a tip from a CI, detectives independently observed the suspected individual fitting the CIs description partaking?in an alleged drug transaction. The Court of Appeals held that a?Darden?hearing was not required for Farrow because “probable cause could be established by the independent observations of the police officer” (id.?at 631).

usscIn the instant case, the police did not charge the defendant with the two drug transactions arranged between the detectives and the CI. The defendant was only charged with possession after the police first observed the drug transactions and established probable cause for the search warrant. Thus, the evidence presented concerning the two controlled drug buys were irrelevant to the possession charges since the CI’s statements were deemed sufficient in establishing probable cause.

The Court of Appeals concluded that because the CI had cocaine in his possession immediately after and only immediately after the transaction with the defendant and the police monitored the entire transaction, there was enough evidence at trial to conclude that the CI obtained the cocaine from defendant. The detectives’ independent observations, therefore, established probable cause making a Darden hearing unnecessary. The Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division order should be affirmed.


Related Articles