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Reasonable Suspicion – Informant Reliability

State v. Glenn L. Earhart, 2010AP348-CR, District 3, 8/10/10

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Earhart: Patrick J. Stangl; BiC; Resp.; Reply

Reasonable Suspicion – Informant Reliability

Authorities were under no obligation to check into a citizen-informant’s criminal record before acting on the information she related.

¶9 Earhart argues Kistner unreasonably relied on Hitchon’s report because she was a known criminal. … Thus, Earhart insists Kistner should have further corroborated Hitchon’s allegation, suggesting Kistner should have reviewed phone records.

¶10 We reject Earhart’s absurd argument. Police need not conduct a criminal record search on a victim as a prerequisite to questioning the alleged actor, regardless of whether the investigating officer knows the victim has been arrested in the past. …

¶11 Here, Kistner set out to investigate Hitchon’s complaint further, seeking Earhart for voluntary questioning. This was eminently reasonable. At worst, Earhart was inadvertently temporarily detained due to the timing of his return home. Hitchon’s minor criminal record and pending operating after revocation charges do not constitute special circumstances that would appreciably undermine her credibility as a victim witness. In any event, those circumstances were unknown to Kistner at the time and, therefore, are not part of the totality of the circumstances bearing on reasonable suspicion.

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