Let's Change The Outcome

Is an anonymous tip grounds for arrest?

An appellate court in Illinois has tossed out the 2014 conviction of a motorist who was sentenced to jail as the byproduct of an undocumented “anonymous tip.”

The supposed concerned citizen reported that the motorist was drunk. He was not, but it turned out he was driving on a suspended license, for which he was arrested. The appeals court ruled that the tip was too vague and unreliable to be the sole justification for a traffic stop.

Drunk driver tip was not even correct

A Chicago police officer claims he received an anonymous call about a “male Hispanic” who was driving drunk on a certain road. The caller described a black Ford Expedition and a partial license plate number. Based on the anonymous tip, the officer located and followed the suspect. Despite observing no traffic violations or erratic driving, he pulled the driver over.

During the traffic stop, the officer determined the man was not impaired. But his license came up as suspended, and he was arrested instead on that charge. He was ultimately given a 30-day jail sentence.

Appeals court was skeptical of vague, unverified tip

The Illinois Appellate Court, in Illinois v. Lopez, overturned the lower court’s conviction. The panel concluded that a traffic stop based on a flimsy and unverified tip was invalid. There is no record that the tipster called 911; he or she allegedly called the arresting officer.

The prosecution relied on a U.S. Supreme Court case, Navarette v. California, which likewise hinged on an anonymous tip. But the tipster in that case had provided a specific eye-witness account of dangerous behavior. In the Lopez case, the tipster provided no details or rationale for the claim of drunk driving. The appeals court also noted the driver did nothing suspicious once he was tailed to corroborate the tip and merit a traffic stop.

His conviction was overturned as a violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Criminal convictions can be appealed if the court erred in allowing (or not allowing) certain evidence, or otherwise unfairly prejudicing the outcome.


Recent Posts

How can a DUI conviction impact my commercial driver’s license?

On Behalf of Ryan Beasley Law | Apr 8, 2022 | Drunk Driving | Commercial vehicles are a common sight on the South Carolina roads. Trucks go to, from and through the state delivering and carting items that are vital to everyday life. This can include food, materials,...

What defenses are there for domestic violence charges?

Every relationship has times when you and your partner will disagree. An argument can feel very after both parties have had a chance to cool off than it does while it is happening. In some cases, a disagreement can get out of hand or misinterpreted, leaving both...

How a DUI can threaten your college education

College is an exciting time for young adults. Newfound independence often comes with having to make important decisions on your own, including whether to drink and drive. Unfortunately, millions of college students choose to drive while intoxicated. While you may be...

Bill could lead to harsher penalties after drug overdoses

In South Carolina and across the United States, opioids are garnering significant attention. This is understandable given the number of people who are having problems with these types of drugs. Specifically, fentanyl is drawing scrutiny from state and federal law...

Do you know the importance of jury selection in your case?

There’s a lot to consider when building your criminal defense. While you may want to work with prosecutors early on to try to mitigate the fallout from your case, and you certainly want to gather evidence that contradicts the prosecution’s case, you can’t neglect the...

Do You Need Legal Advice? Don’t Wait.

Get Help Now


Visit Our VIDEO CENTER To Find Out More