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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. FRED T. CORLETO (05/11/84)

filed: May 11, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
FRED T. CORLETO, JR.



No. 48 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from the Order of December 10, 1981 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, No. 3136-March Term, 1981.

COUNSEL

Gail Thackeray, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellant.

F. Fitzpatrick, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellee.

Cercone, President Judge, and Rowley and Hoffman, JJ. Hoffman, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Cercone

[ 328 Pa. Super. Page 523]

The Philadelphia Police Department obtained a search warrant for appellee's apartment. The warrant was executed and various controlled substances were discovered and seized. Appellee was arrested and charged with the manufacture, delivery and possession, with intent to deliver, of a controlled substance. Appellee filed a pre-trial motion to suppress the proceeds of the search. After a hearing,

[ 328 Pa. Super. Page 524]

    the court suppressed the challenged physical evidence. The Commonwealth here appeals such ruling.*fn1

The issue before us on this appeal is whether the application for the search warrant contained adequate probable cause for the issuance of the warrant. The affidavit which accompanied the search warrant established the following. A first time informant contacted the affiant and related that on the previous evening, the informant had been present in appellee's apartment with appellee, when appellee admitted a third party, who was not known to the informant. This third party inquired about the purchase of some cocaine. Appellee quoted a price and the third party counted out the requested amount and gave it to appellee. Appellee proceeded to an adjoining room returning a few minutes later with a clear plastic bag containing a white powder. Appellee gave the bag to the third party who then left the premises.

After receiving the above information, the affiant, later in the same day and also on two days subsequent to that, established a surveillance of the location described by the informant. On the first occasion, in a period of 45 minutes, the affiant observed three different individuals, on three separate occasions, knock on appellee's door. Each was admitted; remained for a few minutes; and then exited. On the second day of surveillance, in a matter of one hour and twenty-minutes, the affiant saw three persons, individually and at different times, knock at the suspected premises. Each was admitted, remained for a few minutes and then departed.

The affiant confirmed the name and address given by the informant by referring to the Philadelphia County Voter's Registration. Appellee was listed as the occupant of the suspected apartment. In light of the above occurrences, the affiant believed appellant was trafficking in controlled

[ 328 Pa. Super. Page 525]

    substances and sought the search warrant here under review. However, the suppression court disagreed finding the surveillance revealed "pedestrian activity, which [was] equally consistent with no criminal activity . . . ."

The current standard for evaluating search warrants, which rely upon information received from unidentified informants, is the result of a recent evolution in criminal justice. This change was adequately reviewed by this court in Commonwealth v. Price, 318 Pa. ...


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