Bulatko v. Com., No. 0789-91-4

Docket NºNo. 0789-91-4
Citation428 S.E.2d 306, 16 Va.App. 135
Case DateMarch 23, 1993
CourtCourt of Appeals of Virginia

Page 306

428 S.E.2d 306
16 Va.App. 135
Eugene Thomas BULATKO
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.
Record No. 0789-91-4.
Court of Appeals of Virginia.
March 23, 1993.

[16 Va.App. 136] Jay K. Wilk, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant.

H. Elizabeth Shaffer, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Mary Sue Terry, Atty. Gen., on brief), for appellee.

Present: BARROW, BENTON and COLEMAN, JJ.

Page 307

BARROW, Judge.

This appeal is from a conviction of driving a motor vehicle after having been adjudicated an habitual offender in violation of Code § 46.2-357. We hold that an anonymous report received by a police officer was sufficiently corroborated to constitute articulable suspicion justifying his investigative stop of the automobile driven by the defendant.

On the day the defendant was arrested, an anonymous person telephoned Chief Hassler of the Mount Jackson Police Department and told him that the defendant, whom he identified by name, was driving toward Mount Jackson and did not have a driver's license. The informant said that the defendant was driving a Dodge automobile and told Hassler the color and license plate number of the vehicle. Chief Hassler confirmed through a check of records that the defendant was an habitual offender and that the automobile bearing the reported license plate number did not belong to the defendant.

Later that same evening, Chief Hassler spotted the Dodge automobile with the color and license plate number provided him by the informant driving on Main Street in Mount Jackson. Hassler stopped the automobile and recognized that the defendant, whom he knew, was driving the vehicle.

A police officer may stop a motor vehicle, without probable cause, for investigatory purposes if he or she possesses a reasonable and articulable suspicion "that a motorist is [unlicensed or that an automobile is not registered, or that either the vehicle or an occupant is otherwise] subject to seizure for violation of law." Waugh v. [16 Va.App. 137] Commonwealth, 12 Va.App. 620, 621-22, 405 S.E.2d 429, 429 (1991) (quoting Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 663, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 1401, 59 L.Ed.2d 660 (1979)). Although the Commonwealth has the burden of proving that such an investigatory stop is lawful, Murphy v. Commonwealth, 9 Va.App. 139, 143, 384 S.E.2d 125, 127 (1989), the "level of suspicion required [for an investigative stop] is less demanding than the standard of probable cause." Quigley v. Commonwealth, 14 Va.App. 28, 33, 414 S.E.2d 851, 854 (1992).

Furthermore, anonymous information that has been sufficiently corroborated may furnish reasonable suspicion justifying an investigative stop. Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 331, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 2416, 2417, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990). Every detail mentioned by an anonymous informer need not be verified to establish reasonable suspicion. Id. Significant aspects of the informer's information must be independently corroborated, however, to give "some degree of reliability to the other allegation" of the informant. Id. at 332, 110 S.Ct. at 2417-2418.

In this case, every fact related by the informant, except the identity of the driver of the car, was independently corroborated. The make, color, and license plate number of the automobile and the fact that the defendant had been declared an habitual offender were independently corroborated by Chief Hassler before he stopped the vehicle. Chief Hassler had sufficient information to know that, if the defendant was operating a motor vehicle, he was committing a felony. The anonymous information provided Chief Hassler a reason to suspect that the defendant was operating the identified vehicle. We hold, therefore, that reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity justified the stop of the automobile driven by this defendant and his right to remain free from unreasonable search and seizure was not violated.

This case differs from Beckner v. Commonwealth, a recent decision of this Court. In that case, the informant did not give the officer the name of the driver, the license number of the automobile, or its color. Beckner v. Commonwealth, --- Va.App. ----, ----, 425 S.E.2d 530, 532-33 (1993)....

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14 practice notes
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • July 29, 2003
    ...that has been sufficiently corroborated may furnish reasonable suspicion justifying an investigative stop." Bulatko v. Commonwealth, 16 Va. App. 135, 137, 428 S.E.2d 306, 307 (1993) (citing Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 331, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 2417, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990)). "An informant's t......
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • February 4, 2003
    ...that has been sufficiently corroborated may furnish reasonable suspicion justifying an investigative stop." Bulatko v. Commonwealth, 16 Va.App. 135, 137, 428 S.E.2d 306, 307 (1993) (citing Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 331, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 2416, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990)). "An informant's ti......
  • Washington v. Com., Record No. 0230-96-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 19, 1999
    ...must be independently corroborated to give `some degree of reliability to the allegation' of the informant." Bulatko v. Commonwealth, 16 Va. App. 135, 137, 428 S.E.2d 306, 307 (1993) (quoting Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 332, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 Clearly, the officers lacked a......
  • Gregory v. Com., No. 2083-94-2
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • March 19, 1996
    ...an anonymous tipster, "[s]ignificant aspects of the informer's information must be independently corroborated." Bulatko v. Commonwealth, 16 Va.App. 135, 137, 428 S.E.2d 306, 307 (1993). See also Johnson v. Commonwealth, 20 Va.App. 49, 54, 455 S.E.2d 261, 264 (1995) (holding that Terry stop ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • July 29, 2003
    ...that has been sufficiently corroborated may furnish reasonable suspicion justifying an investigative stop." Bulatko v. Commonwealth, 16 Va. App. 135, 137, 428 S.E.2d 306, 307 (1993) (citing Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 331, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 2417, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990)). "An informant's t......
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • February 4, 2003
    ...that has been sufficiently corroborated may furnish reasonable suspicion justifying an investigative stop." Bulatko v. Commonwealth, 16 Va.App. 135, 137, 428 S.E.2d 306, 307 (1993) (citing Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 331, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 2416, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990)). "An informant's ti......
  • Washington v. Com., Record No. 0230-96-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 19, 1999
    ...must be independently corroborated to give `some degree of reliability to the allegation' of the informant." Bulatko v. Commonwealth, 16 Va. App. 135, 137, 428 S.E.2d 306, 307 (1993) (quoting Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 332, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 Clearly, the officers lacked a......
  • Gregory v. Com., No. 2083-94-2
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • March 19, 1996
    ...an anonymous tipster, "[s]ignificant aspects of the informer's information must be independently corroborated." Bulatko v. Commonwealth, 16 Va.App. 135, 137, 428 S.E.2d 306, 307 (1993). See also Johnson v. Commonwealth, 20 Va.App. 49, 54, 455 S.E.2d 261, 264 (1995) (holding that Terry stop ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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