Use of Informants

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Probable cause is very time- and place-specific, and information used in an investigation to generate a search warrant must be current. Law enforcement must be able to establish that evidence of a crime may be found at that time and in a certain place. In United States v. Leon (1984), the Court held that 5-month-old information from an informant is “stale” and cannot be used to establish probable cause. However, in the same case, the Court did not specify how much time may elapse between the informant’s observation and the issuing of a warrant, but instead stated that the issue of staleness “must be determined by the circumstances of each case.”

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In your main post:

  • Assume the role of a law enforcement officer and identify the challenges inherent in evaluating staleness from the circumstances of the United States v. Leon case.
  • Discuss two situations where evidence would not be stale even after the passage of a considerable length of time.
  • Explain how the digital era has redefined the issue of evidence staleness.

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