This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






State of Minnesota,


Cory Benjamin Stumbo,


Filed August 15, 2006


Minge, Judge


Hubbard County District Court

File No. K2-04-0300



Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Keiko L. Sugisaka, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and


Gregory D. Larson, Hubbard County Attorney, 301 Court Avenue, Park Rapids, MN 56470 (for respondent)


B. Joseph Majors, II, Thorwaldsen, Malmstrom, Sorum & Majors, P.L.L.P., 618 First Street East, Suite 2, P.O. Box 859, Park Rapids, MN 56470 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Minge, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N

MINGE, Judge

            Appellant challenges his convictions, arguing that police had insufficient information to supply reasonable suspicion to stop or probable cause to search his vehicle.  Because an informant provided an accurate prediction of appellant’s future behavior and because police corroborated other information provided by the informant, we affirm. 


            On March 10, 2004, an informant told Hubbard County Deputy Sheriff J.T. Harris that appellant Cory Stumbo was in Brooklyn Center obtaining marijuana and mushrooms, and that appellant would return to Park Rapids with the drugs later that afternoon via northbound state Highway 64.  The informant gave Harris appellant’s name, a description of the vehicle he would be driving and its license plate number, and appellant’s address.  Harris testified that he had worked with the informant in the past and that the informant had provided correct information to him on other matters.  Harris verified that the license plate number was registered to the vehicle described by the informant.  Harris also ran a check of appellant’s driver’s license and went to the address given to him by the informant to see appellant’s house. 

            As predicted by the informant, appellant drove north on Highway 64 toward Park Rapids that afternoon.  Officers waited for him to drive by, and upon identifying his vehicle based on the information provided by the informant, Deputy Greg Siera stopped appellant.  Siera asked for appellant’s license and registration and asked appellant to step out of his car.  Harris approached appellant and informed him that he had been stopped based on information that he was transporting illegal narcotics in his vehicle.  Appellant initially denied that there were drugs in the vehicle.  After some discussion between appellant and the officers, possibly including a threat to have a drug-sniffing dog brought to the scene, Harris testified that he asked appellant where the drugs were in the vehicle.  Appellant told Harris that there were drugs in the trunk of the vehicle.  Officers searched the trunk and found 56 grams of psilocybin and 15.9 ounces of marijuana.  Appellant was charged with second-degree and fifth-degree controlled-substance crimes. 

            Appellant brought a motion to suppress the drugs on the basis that officers did not have a reasonable suspicion to justify stopping his vehicle or probable cause to search his vehicle and that appellant did not consent to the search.  The district court denied appellant’s motion, noting that a reliable, confidential informant supplied detailed information that Harris verified.  The case was submitted to the district court on stipulated facts under the procedure described in State v. Lothenbach, 296 N.W.2d 854 (Minn. 1980).  The district court convicted appellant of both charges, sentenced appellant to 48 months, and stayed execution of the sentence pending this appeal.


            An appellate court reviewing a pretrial ruling on a motion to suppress “may independently review the facts and determine whether, as a matter of law, the district court erred in suppressing or not suppressing the evidence.”  State v. Askerooth, 681 N.W.2d 353, 359 (Minn. 2004).  A district court’s determinations of reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop and probable cause to conduct a warrantless search are reviewed de novo.  State v. Munson, 594 N.W.2d 128, 135 (Minn. 1999). 


            The first issue is whether the district court erred in determining that the stop of appellant’s car was supported by reasonable suspicion.  Both the United States and Minnesota Constitutions prohibit “unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, § 10.  Warrantless searches are generally per se unreasonable, subject to limited exceptions.  State v. Burbach, 706 N.W.2d 484, 488 (Minn. 2005).  One exception is that police may make limited investigative stops of vehicles without a warrant when police have a “reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity.”  Munson, 594 N.W.2d at 136.  To establish such suspicion, “the police need only show that the stop was not the product of mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity.”  Id. (quotation omitted). 

            A tip from an informant can supply the requisite information supporting an investigative stop, provided “it has sufficient indicia of reliability.”  In re Welfare of G.M., 560 N.W.2d 687, 691 (Minn. 1997).  “Police generally may not effect a stop on the basis of an anonymous informant’s tip unless they have some minimal information suggesting the informant is credible and obtained the information in a reliable way.”  Id. This court has identified factors indicating the reliability of a confidential informant:

(1) a first-time citizen informant is presumably reliable; (2) an informant who has given reliable information in the past is likely also currently reliable; (3) an informant’s reliability can be established if the police can corroborate the information; (4) the informant is presumably more reliable if the informant voluntarily comes forward; (5) in narcotics cases, “controlled purchase” is a term of art that indicates reliability; and (6) an informant is minimally more reliable if the informant makes a statement against the informant’s interests.


 State v. Ross, 676 N.W.2d 301, 304 (Minn. App. 2004).

A tip from an informant that does not provide probable cause may still meet the lower requirements of providing a reasonable suspicion.  Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 147, 92 S. Ct. 1921, 1924 (1972).  Factors regarding an informant’s tip that are relevant in the probable-cause context, including the informant’s veracity, reliability, and basis of knowledge, “are also relevant in the reasonable-suspicion context, although allowance must be made in applying them for the lesser showing required to meet that standard.”  Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 328-29, 110 S. Ct. 2412, 2415 (1990). 

            In State v. Cook, this court held that an informant’s past reliability is not sufficient to establish probable cause unless there is also evidence of the basis of the informant’s knowledge.  610 N.W.2d 664, 667-68 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. July 25, 2002).  A basis of knowledge can be shown in several ways:

This basis of knowledge may be supplied directly, by first-hand information, such as when a CRI states that he purchased drugs from a suspect or saw a suspect selling drugs to another; a basis of knowledge may also be supplied indirectly through self-verifying details that allow an inference that the information was gained in a reliable way and is not merely based on a suspect’s general reputation or on a casual rumor circulating in the criminal underworld. Assessment of the CRI’s basis of knowledge involves consideration of the quantity and quality of detail in the CRI’s report and whether police independently verified important details of the informant’s report. 668.

            In Ross, this court considered an informant’s statement that the defendant was going to deliver cocaine to a specific address at 2:30 p.m. that day.  676 N.W.2d at 303.  The informant also described the car the defendant would be driving and the clothes he would be wearing.  Id.  Around 2:30 p.m., the defendant arrived in a car matching the informant’s description and dressed as the informant described.  Id. We reversed the district court’s determination that the informant’s tip did not provide probable cause, noting that “the CRI provided a detailed prediction of future behavior that was corroborated by police before the search.”  Id. at 305; see also Munson, 594 N.W.2d at 132, 136-37 (upholding finding of probable cause where informant described vehicle in detail, identified two occupants by name, and stated that the vehicle would arrive at an address in St. Paul in approximately two hours carrying cocaine). 

            Here, Harris testified that the informant had provided reliable information in the past, an important factor in evaluating the informant’s reliability.  See Ross, 676 N.W.2d at 304.  Also, the informant described appellant’s vehicle and correctly predicted that appellant would be driving that vehicle north into Hubbard County on Highway 64 that afternoon.  This accurate prediction provides an indication that the informant was aware of “inside information.”  See id. at 305.  In addition, police corroborated other details given by the informant, including the license plate numbers of the vehicle. 

            Appellant argues that the informant here received his information from a third party and that the state did not show that the third party’s information was reliable.  But, as just observed, the informant here correctly predicted appellant’s future behavior on a specific day.  This constitutes the type of “self-verifying details that allow an inference that the information was gained in a reliable way.”  See Cook, 610 N.W.2d at 668.   

            Appellant also points to information regarding the license number, vehicle description, and his personal description and argues that corroboration of such easily obtainable information does not provide a reasonable suspicion or probable cause.  In State v. Albrecht, we held that a tip stating that the defendant was a drug dealer, lived at an address described by the informant, and owned a truck described by the informant did not provide probable cause, even where police corroborated the defendant’s address and ownership of the truck.  465 N.W.2d 107, 109 (Minn. App. 1991).  But the tip in Albrecht did not permit the same corroboration of a prediction of future behavior that we consider here.  See id. Thus, the district court did not err in determining that the officers had reasonable suspicion to stop appellant’s vehicle. 


The second issue is whether the district court erred in determining that the search of appellant’s car was supported by probable cause.  Police may search an automobile without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains contraband.  Munson, 594 N.W.2d at 135.  Whether information provided by an informant establishes probable cause is examined based on the totality of the circumstances, especially the informant’s credibility and veracity.  Ross, 676 N.W.2d at 303-04. 

For the same reasons that the facts provided by the informant established a reasonable suspicion to perform an investigatory stop, they also provided probable cause to search appellant’s vehicle once appellant was stopped and his identity was verified.  The informant’s accurate prediction of appellant’s future behavior and Harris’s corroboration of other details provide a basis for a finding of probable cause.  See Munson, 594 N.W.2d at 136-37; Ross, 676 N.W.2d at 305.  The district court therefore did not err in finding probable cause to support the warrantless search.

The state argues that appellant’s admission that there were drugs in the trunk of his vehicle also supports a finding of probable cause.  Appellant argues that this admission was coerced because officers indicated to him that if they used a narcotics dog, his vehicle would be damaged while searching it.  Because we find probable cause without this admission, we do not consider the arguments of either party on this aspect of the issue. 

Although we find sufficient information to support the warrantless stop and search conducted here, we note that officers proceeding without a warrant risk a subsequent finding that there was not sufficient information to justify the intrusion.  Obtaining a search warrant reduces the risk that a vehicle search will be reversed when reviewed on appeal.  See In re Welfare of D.A.G., 484 N.W.2d 787, 792 (Minn. 1992) (“The protection provided by the warrant requirement . . . is that someone skilled in the law and independent in judgment must make the decision as to whether a search may be executed.  Exceptions must not abrade the very right itself.”).