THE STATE OF
In The Court of Appeals
The State, Respondent,
James E. Rogers, Appellant.
Opinion No. 4093
Submitted January 1, 2006 – Filed March 13, 2006
David Craig Brown, of
Florence, for Appellant.
Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Senior Assistant Attorney General Harold M. Coombs, Jr., all of Columbia; and Solicitor Cecil Kelly Jackson, of Sumter, for Respondent.
HUFF, J.: Appellant, James Rogers, was tried for and convicted of accessory before the fact of armed robbery. He appeals, asserting the trial judge erred in failing to suppress evidence of money found in the back of a police car because it was the fruit of an illegal stop. We affirm.1
On January 31, 2002, a man with a gun walked into Cash U.S.A., demanded money from the assistant manager of the business, and left with over $1,000. Thereafter, the Williamsburg County Grand Jury indicted
At the start of the case,
Sergeant Coker testified that around 2:15 p.m. on January 31, he received a call from a confidential informant who was working with the Kingstree Police Department on various cases. He then met with the informant, who told Sergeant Coker about a robbery that was to take place that afternoon at the Cash U.S.A. on Long Street. He told the officer the individuals who would be involved in the armed robbery were James Rogers, Quantrell Wilson, Cortez Brown, and Kajuna Mitchum. The informant also stated the men were supposed to use a white Honda automobile that
The sergeant called his supervisor and relayed the information he had received. As he was driving the confidential informant home, a call came over the radio indicating there had been an armed robbery at the Cash U.S.A. The officer let the informant out of his vehicle and proceeded to the
Based on the testimony of Sergeant Coker, the trial judge denied Rogers’ motion to suppress finding that there was reasonable suspicion, “based on sufficient facts to suspect that criminal activity was involved,” such that the authorities had a reasonable basis to stop the car.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
When reviewing a Fourth Amendment search and seizure case, the appellate standard of review is limited to determining whether any evidence supports the trial court’s ruling. State v.
The Fourth Amendment guarantees “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. The stopping of a vehicle and the detention of its occupants constitute a seizure and implicate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. State v. Butler, 353 S.C. 383, 389, 577 S.E.2d 498, 501 (Ct. App. 2003) (citing Delaware v. Prouse, 440
“‘Reasonable suspicion’ requires a ‘particularized and objective basis that would lead one to suspect another of criminal activity.’” State v. Khingratsaiphon, 352 S.C. 62, 69, 572 S.E.2d 456, 459 (2002) (quoting United States v. Cortez, 449
In making his argument, Rogers relies on the case of State v. Green, 341 S.C. 214, 532 S.E.2d 896 (Ct. App. 2000), which relied on the case of Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266 (2000), both of which held an anonymous tip provided insufficient indicia of reliability to justify an investigatory stop. We find Green and J.L. clearly distinguishable from the case at hand. Both Green and J.L. involved investigatory stops based on anonymous tips, wherein the courts found the anonymous tips provided insufficient indicia of reliability to make an investigatory stop. Here, on the other hand, the tip was provided, not by an anonymous tipster, but a known confidential informant, whom the officers had used numerous times in the past and whose information had proved to be reliable. In J.L., the United States Supreme Court noted, “Unlike a tip from a known informant whose reputation can be assessed and who can be held responsible if her allegations turn out to be fabricated, an anonymous tip alone seldom demonstrates the informant’s basis of knowledge or veracity.” J.L., 529
The only information available to the officer was the statement of an unknown, unaccountable informant who neither explained how he knew about the money and narcotics, nor supplied any basis for the officer to believe he had inside information about Green. Since the telephone call was anonymous, the caller did not place his credibility at risk and could lie with impunity. Therefore, we cannot judge the credibility of the caller, and the risk of fabrication becomes unacceptable.
Green, 341 S.C. at 218, 532 S.E.2d at 898 (citations omitted).
In the case at hand, the officer received the information from a known, accountable informant whose reputation could be assessed and who explained how he knew about the planned robbery, thereby supplying a basis, outside of his already proven reliability, for Sergeant Coker to believe the confidential informant had inside information on the matter.
We further note, this case is distinguishable from Green and J.L. in that, at the time of the investigatory stop here, the officers knew that a crime had, in fact, already occurred. Here, the officers were not investigating the possibility that a crime may be occurring, but were investigating a crime that had occurred and had been independently reported.
The record shows a known and reliable informant provided Sergeant Coker with the names of four persons, including Rogers, that were planning to commit an armed robbery at the Cash U.S.A. on Long Street that afternoon, and indicated the men planned to use a white Honda automobile that Rogers had been seen driving. When Sergeant Coker received information that the robbery had just occurred, he drove to the area where
For the foregoing reasons,
HEARN, C.J., and BEATTY, JJ., concur.
1 We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.