"The fact that the contraband is not presently at the place described is immaterial, so long as there is probable cause to believe it will be there when the warrant is executed," the court ruled in a three-point decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia.
Californian Jeffery Grubbs, who was arrested by U.S. postal inspectors after delivery of a child pornography videotape he had ordered online, challenged the anticipatory warrant used in his case.
Grubbs claimed the warrant failed to list the "triggering condition" for his arrest. California's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and overturned Grubbs' guilty plea and conviction.
However, the Supreme Court reinstated the conviction and sent the case back for further action.
"Successful delivery of the videotape to Grubbs' residence ... would plainly establish probable cause for the search," the court said.