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Free «Reliability of Tips by Informants» Essay Sample


Admittance of evidence in any court of law in the United States requires the assurance that the investogators had followed the due process of the law to aviod any compromises during the proceedings. In the United States various apparently strong cases have been dismissed in courts of law after the realization that the evidence was not obtained according to the requirements of the law. The paper looks at instances where such issues have arose and the reccomendations provided by the United States judicial system.

Admittance of Heresay

Within the United States legal arena heresay is defined as "an out of court statement, made in court, to prove the truth of the matter asserted" (FindLaw, 2010a). When the same is extended in terms of obtaining an search warrant it implies that an officer will obtain such warrant based on heresay information. In the Aguillar V. Texas case the officers gave an affidavit that they had reliable information from undiclosed informants that the accussed had kept narcotics at a particular venue. The Justice who handled the case Justice Black argued that although the affidavit was detailed there was no proof of the reliability of the informant and no authenticity of the circumstances under which the information was obtained by the informant (US Supreme Court Center, 2010).



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The Illiniois V. Gates case involved a lettersent to the police that alleged that certain people were involved in illegal drug dealership. However, during the ruling the court pointed out that the two pronged test developed from Aguillar and Spanielli cases had not been met. The court went on to issue another provision stating that when either the reliability of the infromant or the basis of the knowledge of the informant could not be proven by the affiant, then one should be able to compensate for the other (FindLaw, 2010b). In the same perspective the Spanelli V. United States case, the tip by the informant gave was inadmissible because there was no proof that an actual crime was taking place. The two pronged test is superior because it attempts to etablish the authenticity of the information provided by the informant and on the keeness of the affiant to establish the reliability of the information provided by the informant.

Two Pronged V. Totality of Circumstances

The two pronged test establoished by the court in the Aguillar V. Texas case is much more superior because it does not look at reliability in terms of quantity but in terms of quality. The dual approach ensures that the affaint did their job in ascertaining that the circumstances under which the informant got the information are authentic and that the informant was reliable. Since the informant always remains undisclosed, it is upon the affiant to convince the court that the circumstance under which the affidavit was drawn were according to the requirements of the law. The totality of information is rather vague in its perspective and there is a general realization that it has an inclination to quantity rather than quality. An affiant might therefore attempt to prove reliability while tottally ignoring the other aspects as provided in the two pronged approach. A situation might even arise where the informant might direct the affiant in a particular direction in order to hide inconsistencies in the other direction. Informants might have ill motives when providing such information and it is upon the affiant to aviod any bias when conducting further investigation.


Prosecutors are always at pains when they realize that the cases they have spent significant amount of time to build might not be admissible due to the ignorance of some minute but relevant details. The two pronged test can assist police officers in establishing of the reliability of information to a higher degree as compared to the totality of circumstances approach.


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