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If there is a Person on the road driving like crazy then maybe he’s drunk. Police Dispatch sends out a trooper or police officer and he sees this guy driving erratically; he pulls him over and then arrests him. Generally that would be a good stop. Here’s the other situation. Concerned citizen calls, police officer goes out, guy’s not driving erratically, the officer just pulls him over and detains him.
Often times there is a situation in which there is an informant who gives the police information that can lead to a stop or an arrest. Basically the way it works is that on confidential informants, police do not have to disclose his or her name as a general rule or note on the confidential report, the things that the confidential informant says and does for them. Generally they have to know this person. They not only have to know him but have relied on him in the past and have used him in the past. And the work that he did for the police in the past resulted in an arrest, and or other convictions.
There’s a new case out, it’s called Navarette versus California, it’s a 2014 case. The United States Supreme Court determined that a 911 call describing a particular vehicle with particular license plate, found in the general area, after it winded up in court, claimed he was side-swiped. The Informant had provided sufficient indicia of reliability to provide reasonable suspicion to make an investigatory stop. The Court contrasted those details with the case of Florida versus J.L. That was the case where J. L. was a minor in the state of Florida. where the court determined that no reasonable suspicion arose from a bear-bone’s tip, that a young black male in a plaid shirt standing at a bus stop, was carrying a gun. The tipster did not explain how he knew about the gun nor did he suggest that he had any special familiarity with the other man’s affairs.
As a result, police had no basis for believing that the tipster had knowledge of concealed criminal activity. Furthermore, the tip included no predictions of future behavior that could be corroborated to assess the tipster’s credibility. They accordingly concluded that the tip was insufficiently reliable to justify the stop and frisk. And that was Florida versus J.L, a 2000 case. Now in this particular case, in 2014, here too there is no evidence as to how the tipster knew about Mr. Kimball’s alleged intoxication. The tipster did not suggest any special familiarity with Mr. Kimball’s affairs. The tip included no predictions of future behavior that could be corroborated. There is no indication that anyone observed any sort of erratic driving in the case. But in Navarette, the Supreme Court said that he did nothing bad. He just knew what color the car was and that was sufficient for the police officer to make a stop for DUI. So the point is, there is a lot of disparity in the decisions on the initial stops.
Even though attorneys are not successful in a lot of instances. Nevertheless, if you do not try to defend yourself, you do not try to help yourself out it’s nothing ventured, nothing gained and I think that’s what’s important.