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Terry Stop – Basis – Anonymous Tip, And Suspicious Behavior

State v. Eugene Patton, 2006 WI App 235
For Patton: Daniel R. Clausz


¶10   Under appropriate circumstances, an informant’s tip can provide a law enforcement officer with reasonable suspicion to effectuate a Terry stop. Rutzinski, 241 Wis.  2d 729, ¶17;  J.L., 529 U.S. at 270. However, before acting on an informant’s tip, the police must consider its reliability and content. Rutzinski, 241 Wis.  2d 729, ¶¶17-18. In other words, “Tips should exhibit reasonable indicia of reliability.” Id., ¶18. When the tipster is anonymous, the police must corroborate the information through independent investigation. Id., ¶22.[4] The degree of necessary corroboration will vary with the particular case. The less reliable the tip, the more the necessity for additional information to establish reasonable suspicion. Id., ¶23. Tips from anonymous informants may be reliable if the tip contains “inside information or a similar verifiable explanation of how the informant came to know of the information in the tip, which the police in turn independently corroborate.” Id., ¶25. “Stated another way, if a tip contains strong indicia of an informant’s basis of knowledge, there need not necessarily be any indicia of the informant’s veracity.” Id.

[4] This is opposed to the situation where the police receive a tip from an informant that they are reasonably justified in believing to be truthful. In such a situation, the police may rely solely on the tip to provide reasonable suspicion for a stop. State v. Rutzinski, 2001 WI 22, ¶¶19-21, 241 Wis.  2d 729, 623 N.W.2d 516. This may occur in cases where the tipster’s identify is known and/or where the police have received reliable tips from the person in the past. Id.


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