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Illinois v. Gates

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Criminal Procedure keyed to Israel

Citation. 462 U.S. 213, 103 S. Ct. 2317, 76 L. Ed. 2d 527 (1983)

Brief Fact Summary. The police received an anonymous letter outlining specific details about the Defendants, Gates and others (the “defendants”), plans to traffic drugs from Florida to Illinois. When the details were corroborated by the defendants’ actions, police obtained a search warrant and found drugs, weapons and other contraband in the defendants’ home and automobile.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Where an anonymous tip is corroborated with actual police findings, a “totality of the circumstances” approach is an appropriate way of determining probable cause instead of using the two-pronged test of “veracity/reliability” and “basis of knowledge” from Spinelli v. United States, 393 U.S. 410 (1969). The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution (“Constitution”) requires no more than a finding by an issuing magistrate that there is a “substantial basis” that a search will uncover evidence of wrongdoing.

Facts. The police received a highly detailed anonymous tip that the defendants were trafficking drugs. The police, following up on the tip, observed the defendants conducting specific activities which were outlined in the tip. On the basis of the tip and the defendants’ corroborating activities, the police obtained a search warrant. Upon execution of the warrant, the police found drugs, weapons and other contraband in the defendants’ automobile and home.

Issue. May a magistrate issue a valid warrant on the basis of an anonymous tip where there is no indicia of the informer’s “basis of knowledge” if the information contained in the tip is corroborated with police findings?

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