Anonymous Tip Will Not Justify Terry Frisk & Auto Search – State v. Matthews

This morning’s Appellate Division holding in State v. Matthews stands for the proposition that an anonymous tip by itself will not provide sufficient evidence of reasonable suspicion to justify either a protective pat-down or a protective search of a motor vehicle. In Matthews, the police responded to an anonymous telephone tip of a man flashing a gun near a particular car in the middle of the night. The police responded to the scene and found a car precisely matching the description given in the tip. The police conducted a pat-down of the occupants of the vehicle and then conducted a search of the passenger compartment. The police found a gun hidden inside the vehicle. The Appellate Division ruled that although the police were justified in detaining the vehicle and its occupants for questioning, the uncorroborated, anonymous tip did not provide sufficient justification to conduct a Terry frisk of the occupants or to search the interior of the vehicle for weapons.

Download a copy of State v. Matthews.

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