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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

October 29, 2014

WILLIAMS
v.
THE STATE

Motion to suppress. Lowndes Superior Court. Before Judge Tunison.

Brittney Coons-Long, for appellant.

J. David Miller, District Attorney, Jessica W. Clark, Jeremy K. Baker, Assistant District Attorneys, for appellee.

MCFADDEN, Judge. Andrews, P. J., and Ray, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 623

McFadden, Judge.

Shepherd Walter Williams appeals the denial of his motion to suppress. He challenges the sufficiency of the affidavit supporting the search warrant authorizing use of a drug dog at the front door of his residence. He also challenges the subsequent affidavit -- based in part on the drug dog's alert -- supporting the warrant for the search of the residence itself. We find that the magistrate had a substantial [329 Ga.App. 403] basis for concluding that probable cause existed to issue both search warrants. We therefore affirm.

Our Supreme Court, in State v. Palmer, 285 Ga. 75 (673 S.E.2d 237) (2009), described the standards applicable to the various levels of judicial scrutiny involved in the warrant process as follows:

The magistrate's task in determining if probable cause exists to issue a search warrant is simply to make a practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, including the veracity and basis of knowledge of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.
The trial court may then examine the issue as a first level of review, guided by the Fourth Amendment's strong preference for searches conducted pursuant to a warrant, and the principle that substantial deference must be accorded a magistrate's decision to issue a search warrant based on a finding of probable cause.
A deferential standard of review is appropriate to further the Fourth Amendment's strong preference for searches conducted pursuant to a warrant. Although in a particular case it may not be easy to determine when an affidavit demonstrates the existence of probable cause, the resolution of doubtful or marginal cases in this area should be largely determined by the preference to be accorded to warrants.

Page 624

Our appellate courts will review the search warrant to determine the existence of probable cause using the totality of the circumstances analysis. ... The duty of the appellate courts is to determine if the magistrate had a substantial basis for concluding that probable cause existed to issue the search warrant. ... In reviewing the trial court's grant or denial of a motion to suppress, we apply the well-established principles that the trial court's findings as to disputed facts will be upheld unless clearly erroneous and the trial court's application of the law to undisputed facts is subject to de novo review, keeping ...

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