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People v. Gant

AUGUST 13, 1973.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JOSEPH E. GANT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. WAYNE W. OLSON, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE HALLETT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, on a bench trial, was found guilty of the possession of a controlled substance (barbiturate capsules) and was sentenced to one year on probation. On appeal, he contends (1) that probable cause for the arrest has not here been established because the State did not prove the credibility of the informer or corroborate his information by other facts and circumstances; (2) that the arrest should not have been made without first obtaining a warrant; and (3) that the barbiturate capsules, which the defendant dropped as he got out of his car at the officer's order, were "fruit" of said illegal arrest and should have been suppressed.

We conclude that there was probable cause for the arrest and that a warrant was not required. We therefore affirm, without reaching the third issue.

No question is raised as to the sufficiency of the complaint and the facts are not in dispute. At approximately 12:30 A.M. on November 18, 1972, Officer Mitchell was seated in a squad car at 48th Street and Calumet Avenue in Chicago with his partner and an informant, who had previously given information to said partner. The informant told Officer Mitchell that the defendant, Joseph Gant, was sitting nearby in his red convertible with some barbiturate capsules in his possession. The informant added that he knew this because he had just consumed two of them. Relying on this information, plus his own conclusion that the informant was under the influence of narcotics and seeing the defendant in just such a red convertible as the informant had described, Officer Mitchell approached the defendant and ordered him to get out of his car. As the defendant did so, he dropped some red capsules from his hand and the officer retrieved them and detained the defendant. The crime laboratory analysis was that the capsules contained derivatives of barbituric acid. Neither at the hearing on the motion to suppress the evidence, nor at the trial, did Officer Mitchell's partner testify, nor was any evidence brought out to establish the reliability of information previously furnished by this informant. The defendant did not testify.

Passing now to the defendant's first contention — it is quite true as his counsel points out, citing Aguilar v. Texas (1964), 378 U.S. 108, 12 L.Ed.2d 723, 84 S.Ct. 1509, that (quoting from plaintiff's brief):

"Reasonable grounds for believing that person has committed a criminal offense may be found in two particular situations: in factual information furnished by an informant if his reliability has been firmly established, or where this same information has been independently corroborated."

and, citing United States v. Harris (1971), 403 U.S. 573, 29 L.Ed.2d 723, 91 S.Ct. 2075, that (again quoting from plaintiff's brief):

"The Court must be informed that they are relying on something more substantial than a casual rumor circulating in the underworld or an accusation based merely on an individual's general reputation."

The foregoing is reflected also in the Illinois decisions. In People v. Denham, 41 Ill.2d 1, 241 N.E.2d 415, our Supreme Court, at page 5, points out that:

"While an uncorroborated `tip' by an unknown informer alone does not constitute probable cause for arrest (People v. Parren, 24 Ill.2d 572), such a `tip' when corroborated by other facts and circumstances may constitute such probable cause. (People v. McFadden, 32 Ill.2d 101.) As we stated in People v. Macias, 39 Ill.2d 208, 213: `We have held that the test of probable cause is whether a reasonable and prudent man in possession of the knowledge which has come to the arresting officer would believe the person to be arrested is guilty of the crime; that it is something less than evidence that would result in conviction and may be founded on hearsay evidence; that it is based upon the factual and practical considerations of everyday life upon which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act.'"

In People v. Ramos, 112 Ill. App.2d 330, 250 N.E.2d 822, this court, at page 335, said:

"Whether probable cause existed must be governed by the totality of the facts and circumstances in each case. People v. Hanna, 42 Ill.2d 323, 328, 247 N.E.2d 610 (1969). An uncorroborated `tip' from an unknown informer alone does not constitute probable cause for arrest without a warrant; however, when such `tip' is corroborated by other facts and circumstances it may constitute probable cause. People v. Denham, 41 Ill.2d 1, 5, 241 N.E.2d 415 (1968)."

And in People v. Holloman, 46 Ill.2d 311, 263 N.E.2d 7, our Supreme Court, at page 317, in affirming a drug conviction said:

"* * * After examining the totality of circumstances surrounding the search we find that they would `warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief' that the action taken was appropriate [citations].' Terry v. Ohio (1968), 392 U.S. 1, 21-22, 20 L.Ed.2d 889, ...


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