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Case Basics
Docket No. 
William Spinelli
United States
(for the petitioner)
(for the United States, pro hac vice)
Location: apartment
Facts of the Case 

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) applied for, and were issued, a search warrant to assist in uncovering evidence of defendant William Spinelli conducting illegal gambling activities. In the affidavit required for the warrant application, the FBI agents stated the defendant was known to "local law enforcement officials as a bookmaker." The FBI related in the affidavit that agents had tracked defendant Spinelli for five days, and that on four of the days, Spinelli was seen crossing into St. Louis, MO, entering an apartment at 1108 Indian Circle Drive. Finally, the agents offered that they "had been informed by a confidential reliable informant that William Spinelli is operating a handbook and accepting wagers and disseminating wagering information by means of the telephones which have been assigned the numbers WYdown 4-0029 and WYdown 4-0136."


Did the affidavit included in the warrant application afford probable cause sufficient to issue the search warrant?

Decision: 5 votes for Spinelli, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

No. The informant's tip, even when corroborated with the FBI's observations from their surveillance, was not sufficient to provide a basis for a finding probable cause when using the two-pronged test set forth in Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108 (1964). (Abstract prepared by Blaine Schmidt.)

Cite this Page
SPINELLI v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 27 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1968/1968_8/>.
SPINELLI v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1968/1968_8/ (last visited August 27, 2015).
"SPINELLI v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 27, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1968/1968_8/.