In State v. Bernth, the requirements for use of an informant's tip in establishing probable cause under the fourth amendment were again considered in Nebraska. Under the fourth amendment, as applied to the states through the fourteenth amendment, a warrant is required to search private property, and a search warrant may be issued only upon a showing of probable cause. In order to understand the significance of the Bernth decision, it is necessary to examine it against the background of the guidelines laid down by the United States Supreme Court on issuance of a search warrant based on an informant's tip. The Court has formulated these guidelines in six cases: Jones v. United States, Rugendorf v. United States, Aguilar v. Texas, United States v. Ventresca, Spinelli v. United States, and United States v. Harris. In summary, the Supreme Court cases delineate three ways in which an affidavit based on an informant's tip may be validated: (1) by providing a substantial basis upon which the magistrate may credit the informant's tip, (2) by providing the underlying circumstances from which the magistrate can conclude that the informant was credible and his information accurate, and (3) by providing sufficient detail of the accused's alleged criminal activities. Previous Nebraska cases dealing with search warrants issued upon an informant's tip have not relied upon a presumption that the sought-after contraband was in a given place, but have always established a connection between the premises to be searched and the objects to be seized. By going beyond the previous judicial holdings in emasculating the fourth amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Nebraska Supreme Court threatens to warp the legal system.
Use of an Informant's Tip in Establishing Probable Cause: State v. Bernth, 196 Neb. 813, 246 N.W.2d 600 (1976),
56 Neb. L. Rev. 883
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