In a controlled delivery case, in what circumstances will the police proceed to execute the search warrant under a reverse sting?

California, United States of America

The following excerpt is from People v. Sousa, 18 Cal.App.4th 549, 22 Cal.Rptr.2d 264 (Cal. App. 1993):

Here, as in those cases, there was no reason to believe that the police would exercise their theoretical discretion to abort the sting. Pecis's affidavit established that, upon completion of the reverse sting, the police would have the right to search for contraband at appellant's residence. Implicit in both the controlled-delivery cases and the instant situation is the presumption that the police will not execute the search warrant until after they have confirmed that the anticipated event, whether delivery or prearranged sale of contraband, has actually taken place. "It is logical to assume ... [officers] would not be disposed to undermine the success of their efforts by premature execution of the warrant." (Alvidres v. Superior Court, supra, 12 Cal.App.3d at p. 582, 90 Cal.Rptr. 682.) Where, as here, the affidavit sets out in detail the anticipated events upon which execution is contingent, and the magistrate determines that the right to search will exist upon the occurrence of these events, the determination of probable cause is not improperly delegated by leaving to the officers the future determination of whether those events have actually occurred.

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