Weekly Case Summaries: April 6, 2018

Texas Courts of Appeals

Herrera v. State

No. 07-16-00203-CR        4/2/18

Issue:

Is a report of suspicious activity by a citizen-informant sufficient to provide reasonable suspicion?

Holding:

Yes. Information provided to police by a citizen-informant is considered reliable when the informant identifies herself and may be held to account for the accuracy and veracity of the report. Here, the caller reported that a vehicle had been parked in front of her house and was continuously driving around the neighborhood throughout the day in a manner that made her believe the driver and passenger were “casing” the neighborhood. She provided a detailed description of the car and the driver. This report and the caller’s known identity is sufficient to provide reasonable suspicion that the defendant, the driver of the vehicle, was about to engage in criminal activity. Read opinion.

Commentary:

This case relies upon the leading decisions that allow officers to develop reasonable suspicion based upon citizen-informants. This decision is particularly helpful in a case with a defendant who was “casing” a neighborhood or a particular business. There are few cases that deal with officers stopping someone for “casing,” even though that was the behavior that gave rise to our reasonable suspicion jurisprudence in Terry v. Ohio. This decision should be very valuable for that as well.

Announcements

The Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Texas is holding its annual Animal Law Institute conference on Friday, April 27 in Austin. The conference is on animal cruelty and topics include the link between domestic violence and animal abuse, Texas animal cruelty laws 101, preparing and prosecuting animal cruelty cases, animal hoarding, dog fighting, ag gag laws, passing animal cruelty laws in Texas, and ethics. More information available here.

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