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Home  >  Topics  >  Legal

May 25, 2005
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Quinlan Publishing Group Case Summaries on Legal Compliance
with Quinlan Publishing Group

Anonymous tip / unlawful stop investigative stops quiz

Anonymous Tip Quiz
    Officer O receives an anonymous tip stating that a man has a stolen gun in his pocket. The tipster describes the man's alleged location and says he is wearing green pants.

    O then goes to the location stated in the report and sees a man wearing green pants. After grabbing C, O pats him down and feels a gun in his pocket. C later asks the court to suppress the gun. Will the court grant this request?

Yes. Normally, anonymous tips cannot, by themselves, establish a reasonable suspicion justifying an investigative stop, unless the police are able to corroborate portions of the tip that are predictive of criminal activity. Here, the officer only corroborated the part of the tip stating C would be wearing green pants. This was insufficient to justify an investigative stop.

Unlawful Stop Quiz

    Officer O is driving down the street when he passes Criminal C, who is driving a minivan. Thinking that C doesn't look like the type of person who would be driving a minivan, O pulls behind C and activates his lights. After C pulls over, O walks up to him and says, "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" C complies, and during the discussion, O learns that there are drugs in the car. C later asks the court to suppress the drug evidence. Will his request be granted?

Probably. Despite the fact that O asked C for permission to engage him in a discussion, the encounter began when O activated his police lights, which, based on prior court decisions, would make a reasonable person feel she/he was not free to ignore the officer. It is unlikely that a court would find that the questioning of C was attenuated sufficiently from the initial unlawful stop. Therefore, the evidence would be suppressed.

Disclaimer: This quiz is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The answers to these questions are based on federal law. State laws may be more restrictive of officer conduct. Whenever you are unclear about proper procedure, ask an attorney in your jurisdiction.


This Police Center Update is a free resource for PoliceOne.com members and persons with an interest in law enforcement and criminal procedure issues. For information on how to subscribe to Quinlan's law enforcement bulletins, please go to www.quinlan.com, or call (800) 229-2084. PoliceOne.com members get a special discount of 15% off their first, one-year subscription to any Quinlan law enforcement publication.


About the author

Quinlan Publishing Group in Boston offers critical and timely law enforcement information to its newsletter subscribers through a variety of publications. Summaries of important court cases, legal compliance information, technology updates, grants and funding information, news updates and helpful tips make up the content of these monthly newsletters. The newsletter titles are: Investigative Stops Bulletin; Search & Seizure Law Bulletin; Narcotics Law Bulletin; Police Department Disciplinary Law Bulletin; Police Grievances Law Bulletin; Arrest Law Bulletin; and Law Enforcement Management Bulletin.





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