An informant gives the police a tip on criminal activity in return for a deal on his own behalf. Police take this single tip then bust a major crime syndicate through breaking down doors, chasing bad guys, and finding the subject of the tip. All this makes for a great script for a TV show which is generally highly entertaining. However the reality is a tip to police is not likely to result in a major takedown. In fact there are procedures in place established through the law that an informant must go through before his tip can be used as a basis for police to further intrude on the information.
In North Carolina before police can use a tip given to them as a basis of reasonable suspicion the tip most come from a reliable source and generally must be corroborated. But what exactly does this mean? A reliable source is generally going to be from an informant the police have worked with previously and has given information that can be proven true. Information that can be corroborated is that which other evidence can be presented to show its authenticity, or in other words additional evidence which supports its truth.
Basically just because someone calls the police and gives them an anonymous tip that criminal activity is taking place does not mean police can break down someone’s door. Rather before police can act on a tip they must make sure the tip is reliable by making sure the person giving the tip is a reliable source, which usually happens through previous transaction between the informant and police. Additionally the police have to make sure the information given in the tip can be backed up by additional evidence. Anonymous tips alone are probably not going to be enough for police to search or seize someone without more.
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