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Citizen Informant versus Anonymous Tipster

Arrests come about in many ways. Sometimes an officer sees the crime. More often than not the police become involved in an investigation because someone called them. The information gleaned in that phone call is important in determining what steps the police can take next.

Someone who calls the police to report a crime and gives no information about themselves is considered an “anonymous tipster.” A person who gives information to the police both about themselves and what they witnessed is a “citizen informant.” The person who gave them the information determines what the police can do next.

Generally, an anonymous tipster is considered unreliable. It is difficult to verify the truthfulness of the anonymous tipster. They face no legal repercussions for lying to the police. And it is impossible to determine their motives in contacting law enforcement. A tip from an anonymous tipster may not be relied upon to stop an individual unless the officer can somehow corroborate what the tipster told them. And this corroboration cannot happen by stopping the person.

There are a number of cases examining this issue. Is a person who approaches an officer on the street and gives detail about the clothing and behavior and license plate number of a suspect before walking away an anonymous tipster or a citizen informant? They gave no information about themselves, but they offered a lot of verifiable information about the subject. If the police stop the person and question them did they do it in good faith? What if they make an arrest?

It is important that you have legal representation who can examine all of the evidence in your case and determine that the police followed the rules. Call Dunham and Ingram today to discuss your case with a knowledgeable and prepared attorney.