US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear California Appeal Over Anonymous Tips


On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, the United States Supreme Court decided to determine whether a police officer needs to have more than "an anonymous tip" to stop a suspected drunken or reckless driver.

The name of the case is Navarette v California, a California Court of Appeals decision rendered in October of 2012. (See digest of opinion below)

The issues before the Court in the Navarette case are as follows:

1. Does the Fourth Amendment require an officer who receives an anonymous tip regarding a drunken or reckless driver to corroborate dangerous driving before stopping the vehicle?

2. Does an anonymous tip that a specific vehicle ran someone off the road provide the necessary legal "reasonable suspicion" to stop the vehicle, where the officer could not corroborate any dangerous driving despite following the suspect vehicle for almost five minutes?

In other words, the legal issue before the Supreme Court is whether or not an officer needs to observe evidence of illegal or reckless driving firsthand in order to meet the US Constitution's requirement of "reasonable suspicion" to initiate a traffic stop.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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