State v. Welch

In State v. Welch, 162 Vt. 635, 650 A.2d 516 (1994), three police officers were approached by an individual reporting the following: that he had seen people walking around an older pickup truck in a driveway, and "he thought that that was suspicious," leading him to drive by again. Id. at 635, 650 A.2d at 517. He reported that he then observed the truck in a different driveway, with the occupants either not present or inside the truck. The individual also reported seeing objects in the back of the truck, without being able to identify these objects. While relaying this information to the officers, the truck in question drove by them, and one of the officers proceeded to follow it for two miles before pulling it over. The officer testified that there had been no unlawful or suspicious conduct by the truck while he followed it, and that the reason he pulled it over was to ask what the driver had been doing going into and out of driveways. The Court held that the trial court's denial of the motion to suppress was error, as "an investigatory stop may not be based solely on the unsupported hunch of an informant." Id. at 636, 650 A.2d at 518. While the Court recognized that citizen information about activity they deem suspicious may be presumed reliable, the activity reported was not itself indicative of criminal conduct, and therefore the defendant's activities did not give rise to a reasonable and articulable suspicion of wrongdoing. Id.