Philadelphia criminal appeals lawyer Lloyd Long discusses details surrounding the Pennsylvania’s Superior Court’s decision in the Romero and Castro case. This was a Commonwealth appeal of an order granting suppression. Appellees were married and shared a home. Husband’s brother absconded from a halfway house. Parole agents determined that his most likely residence was Appellants’ home.
After obtaining an arrest warrant, a fugitive team went to Appellees’ home, stated who they were looking for, and were invited inside where they were informed that the fugitive was not there. The team began looking around the house. When they approached the basement, Appellees protested the search. The team disregarded the protest, went in the basement, and discovered quite the indoor marijuana farm.
After hearing Appellees’ motion to suppress, the trial court found the state parole agent credible on his research regarding the fugitive’s likely whereabouts — he testified that the fugitive’s most recent (but expired) driver’s license was Appellee’s address, that he had given that address to police in 2009 after an arrest, that he had listed the address on halfway house paperwork, and that his family — Appellees — still lived there. But the trial court granted suppression because the parole agent did not provide supporting documentation about that evidence. It also claimed suppression was warranted because the information connecting the fugitive to the address was stale.
The Superior Court reversed. The agent’s testimony, which the lower court found credible, was uncontradicted. His research was sufficient to give him a reasonable belief that the subject of the arrest warrant lived in Appellee’s house. The warrant team, therefore, was entitled to enter Appellee’s home to attempt to arrest the subject without a search warrant.