Citizen Tip Traffic Stops
This summarizes how courts evaluate citizen tips that lead to traffic stops by the police.
Three Types Of InformantsThere are three types of informants:
1. The anonymous informant.
2. The known informant.
3. The identified citizen informant.
Anonymous Informants Are UnreliableThe anonymous informant is usually considered unreliable and will require that the police gather evidence that corroborates the tip prior to conducting a traffic stop. In other words, the police need to look for driving behavior that matches the information in the tip.
Known Informants Can Be Reliable.The known informant is usually someone that the police have used before. If that person's previous tips have proved to be reliable, the courts can consider that fact in determining whether the police have made a valid traffic stop.
Identified Citizen Informants Are ReliableThe identified citizen informant is someone who identified themselves by name. The identification provides some reliability because giving false statements would subject that person to potential criminal charges.
Citizen Tips Can Be Challenged In CourtWhen the police rely on an informant in conducting a traffic stop, filing a motion to suppress is a good way to challenge the stop. Without reasonable suspicion to justify the stop, the stop is invalid.