Cops Can Search for Drugs Based on Anonymous Tip

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by Malum Prohibitum, Mar 31, 2006.

  1. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Daniels v. State - in Spite of the clear holding of J.L. v. Florida, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that a police search of a young black man with a gun based on an anonmous tip violated the Fourth Amendment, the Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia has now held:

    It does not violate the Fourth Amendment to stop a car based on an anonymous tip that there are drugs in the car.

    The only "corroborating evidence" that I can discern is that the police "corroborated" that the description matched and that the car was indeed driving in the direction that the anonymous tipster indicated.

    The Court of Appeals applied a "balancing test" to our Fourth Amendment rights. :roll:
     
  2. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Based on the other post, I guess they get to search for guns, too, while they have you stopped based on an "anonymous tip."

    :jail:

    :shakehead:
     

  3. geaux_tigers

    geaux_tigers Member

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    Not sure I understand how this anonymous tip business jives with the right to face an accuser. Seems like anonymous tip should not be a basis for probable cause or anything of that sort. Seems like it should, at most, be used to suggest where police could look for criminal activity. If you wanted to harass someone, why not just call in anonymous tips that they have drugs? :?
     
  4. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    The supreme court has ruled that anonymous tips can form the basis for probable cause if they are corroborated with independent information that is not merely predictable information. You still get to face the accuser, but the accuser would be the cop that acted on the anonymous tip. This is not really different from when a non-anonymous tipster calls the police and the police act on the reliable information provided. It is entirely likely that the non-anonymous tipster will not be a part of the state's case, and you will not see him/her in the courtroom.
     
  5. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    jrm, the problem is - and maybe I need to read the case carefully before spouting off - but the problem is that the "corroborating evidence" in the case appears to be that they matched the description given to the officers.

    Now, that is not corroborating evidence. Corroborating evidence is when the anonymous tipster gives information that tends to show the violation of the law, and the officer observes things that tend to corroborate what he was told.

    Here is an example that is not corroborating evidence:

    Tipster - jrm is a bad guy.

    Officer- Yep, there is jrm, alright. That "corroborates" what I was told.

    That is not the way it is supposed to work.
     
  6. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    There is a different rule when the tipster is willing to give his name and stick around to testify against you. That is not what occurred in this case, though.
     
  7. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    The only difference between this case and JL v. Florida is that in this case the tipster tells the officer which way the car is driving. Some difference.

    This could really be abused by somebody that just wants to see you get harassed on the side of the road for an hour or so on a morning when you have a very important court appearance or something.

    Especially if the person calling knows you have guns in the car and will get an attitude when asked about weapons . . .

    And the "tipster" knows that nothing will come back to haunt them because they are anonymous.
     
  8. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    MY POINT:

    The officers observed nothing suspicious, and, therefore, were not justified in making the stop.
     
  9. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Well, I wasn't commenting on the case. I was responding to geaux_tigers' question.

    But, I'll comment about the case now (it took me a few minutes to find it -- there were multiple Daniels v. State cases this month). The anonymous tipster said he witnessed the defendant conduct a drug deal. He gave the police a description of the vehicle, the tag number, and a description of the defendant and another occupant. He also gave the police the location of the defendant, and the defendant's itinerary (including the approximate time at which the defendant would be at a certain point on the highway). All this information checked out. The police stopped the car. Approaching the car, the police smelled raw and burnt marijuana (wow, are the cops drug dogs?). They called a drug dog, which "hit" on the car. Seems like a pretty good case to me, and more than just a vague tip.
     
  10. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    You are quite right. Do you think we should therefore dismiss anonymous tips as basis for probable cause or even reasonable suspicion, because of their inherent unreliability and susceptibility for abuse?
     
  11. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Really? No investigatory stops allowed based on anonymous tips?
     
  12. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Exactly. I do not believe in making forced stops based on nothing more than an anonymous tip.

    I would require something more.

    Anonymous tip - "and the drugs are kept in the compartment under the gas tank . . ."

    And the officer observes the gas strap hanging down - suspicious, and thus corroborative.

    Simply observing that, sure enough, those people look like what the tipster said, and, sure enough, they are on I-20 . . .

    That is not corroboration.
     
  13. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, the car is on I-20.

    Wow. That sure is suspicious.

    I could do the same thing to you on the way home from work (don't panic - I won't :D )
     
  14. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    I know that. I was just pointing out that there was no corroboration in this case.

    That the car is going to be on I-20 is not good enough (well - it is now! I mean it is not good enough for me :D ).
     
  15. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    I find that I am simply repeating what I put in the first post, so I will not keep beating a dead horse, as nobody wants to read repetitive posts on the same thread.

    But I had to add, "She's a witch, burn her!"

    "Oh, how do you know she is a witch?"

    "Cause she looks like one! Burn her!"
     
  16. Molon Labe

    Molon Labe New Member

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    "she turned me into a newt.....I got better"
     
  17. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Predictive Information

    I think that predictive information does, and should, tend to show that the anonymous tipster has a solid "basis of knowledge" with the suspect, so that it's fair to assume that if the tipster knows enough about this person's travels and plans for the day, the tipster is not just taking a wild guess (W.A.G. as Neal Boortz would put it) about the alleged crime.

    While the corroborating information need not directly implicate a crime, it should be detailed enough to show that the tipster is familiar with the suspect's life and lifestyle. THis way, a complete stranger can't just see your car on the road, decide he doesn't like your NRA and pro-hunting bumper sticker, and ANONYMOUSLY report you as a smuggler of illegal machineguns.

    But if the anonymous caller says he knows you well, and that he knows you buy semi-auto AR15s at every Matt Eastman gun show in the metro Atlanta area, and then you regularly go to another gun show that's held twice a year in Chattanooga to buy M16 internal parts and full-auto conversion kits, and then you make the machineguns and advertise them in Thrifty Nickel using the code words " It Really Rocks" to let people know it's a full-auto weapon... and the caller says that you are now on your way to meet a person who has answered your newspaper ad and you have one of the full-auto conversion guns in the trunk of your car, and in 20 minutes the sale will take place in the parking lot of a Waffle House in Forest Park, and you'll be driving the following make and model of vehicle..... and there's no time to get a warrant...

    ... c'mon, ANYBODY would say that the above "anonymous tip" to the cop will at least generate reasonable enough suspicion for the cop to look for a car matching your description at that Waffle House in question, and IF you show up there, the cop should be able to detain you briefly to ask you a few questions. If you pull away, the officer should blue-light you, thus detaining you briefly while he does whatever investigation the circumstances might permit.

    Sure, this still leaves open the possiblity that a friend, family member, or neighbor of the suspect could LIE to the cops and set up the poor innocent motorist to get pulled over... which would result in several minutes' worth of delay and perhaps some embarassment. (No arrest, if no contraband is found). But I don't see a good way to prevent that. I mean, if citizens are willing to lie to cops to get innocent people in trouble...
     
  18. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Bad Example

    Okay, I realize that my long and detailed hypothetical is really a bad example. If the tip is that two guys are going to meet in a parking lot, a public area, and exchange a LONG GUN (a large item, easy to see being transferred), then I suppose it would not be much of a burden for the cop to just park his patrol car around the corner, or to call a detective in an unmarked car, and watch the parking lot (with bare eyeballs or through binoculars) to see if not only does the suspect show up in the vehicle as predicted, but then to also confirm that the suspect MEETS ANOTHER PERSON there, and a rifle or a package large enough to hold a rifle is exchanged. Also, while the cop is waiting for the suspect to show up at the meeting place, he could buy a copy of Thrifty Nickle and see if there is indeed an ad for an AR15 type rifle that "really rocks." This would further corroborate the anonymous tipster.
     
  19. geaux_tigers

    geaux_tigers Member

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    I think I'm with Malum on this one. For corroborating information to be considered valid, it should have to be related to alleged criminal activity not just random facts about the alleged perpetrator.

    That is exactly what I'm thinking. If the person doesn't give enough information about themselves to be identifiable and available for later contact, then there is no way to ensure that these tips are legitimate. Certainly opens up the possiblity for government officials to start arresting people on phony anonymous tips.
     
  20. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    While I agree there is potential for abuse, let's make sure we are talking about the same thing. I'm not talking about an anonymous tip forming the basis for probable cause to arrest. I'm talking about an anonymous tip forming the basis for resonable suspicion to perform an investigatory stop. That's what happened in the Daniels case that precipitated this discussion. As the officer approached the car he smelled burned (and raw) marijuana (I'm still impressed with the raw part).

    Anyway, the point is that the arrest was not based on the anonymous tip. Only the stop was. Presumably, if the stop had not resulted in any evidence of a crime being discovered, the defendant would have been sent on his way.