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Can I Be Arrested in Waldorf Based on an Anonymous Tip?

Yes, depending on the circumstances, it is possible for Maryland law enforcement officials to make an arrest based on an anonymous tip. On the other hand, it is a risky tactic for police officers, and the anonymous tip aspect may provide several legal defenses that can get the case dismissed. If you are arrested here in Waldorf or in Charles County, call the proven Maryland criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Robert Castro at (301) 705-5137. We can help and are available 24/7. Here is some basic legal information on arrests and anonymous tips.

In general, there are two ways in which an arrest can be made. First, an arrest can be made because a Maryland criminal court judge has issued an arrest warrant. To issue the warrant, the Maryland criminal court judge must have information from the police and prosecutors and make a determination that probable cause exists for the arrest. If an anonymous tip is part of the evidence presented to the judge in the application for a warrant, generally, there must be OTHER evidence or witness statements that CORROBORATE the anonymous tip.

If the anonymous tip is the ONLY evidence presented to the judge, then there are significant legal challenges that can be made by your Maryland criminal defense team. Use of ONLY an anonymous tip was allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court case of Navarette v. California, 572 U.S. 393 (2013), discussed below. The Navarette case basically requires that the anonymous tip be reliable. A good criminal defense team can challenge the reliability of the tip and possibly undermine the validity of the arrest warrant.

As noted, there is another type of arrest where no warrant is involved. This involves an arrest by a police officer who has probable cause to believe a crime has recently been committed, is in the process, or will be committed in the very near future. Sometimes, an anonymous tip provides the original basis for a warrantless arrest. This is allowed, but, again, the anonymous tip must be reliable. This is what happened in Navarette. That case involved a 911 call from a driver who claimed she was run off the road by a drunk driver. She refused to give her name, and thus, her tip was deemed anonymous. The 911 caller identified the road and the make, model, and color of the vehicle that she claimed nearly ran her off the road. She also described what happened. From that tip, the police patrol located the vehicle and followed it for about five minutes before making a traffic stop. Eventually, it was determined that the driver was under the influence of marijuana, and a search of the car uncovered 30 pounds of marijuana.

In the end, the Supreme Court approved the use of the anonymous tip because there were several things that indicated reliability with respect to the person and the tip. First, the tipster provided significant detail regarding what had happened and details about the vehicle. Second, the police found the vehicle, as described, in the general location where the tipster indicated it would be. The fact that her description of the vehicle and location were accurate provided a basis for believing the other statements that she made — such as the driver was drunk. Third, the call was made to 911 which is well-known as a system that can identify callers and their locations. This, according to the court, makes it less likely that a person will lie when calling 911. Taken together, these facts about the 911 call made the anonymous tip sufficiently reliable to establish probable cause for the police stop.

From the foregoing, it can be seen that an anonymous tip can be used to make an arrest. But, an anonymous tip can also be challenged on a number of grounds.

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions, contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301) 705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD Criminal Defense lawyers. Our address is 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD 20601.