Which test is better, the two-pronged test or the totality of the circumstances test?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While this is a matter of opinion, I would argue that the totality of circumstances test is superior.  The reason for this is that the two-pronged, Aguilar-Spinelli Test is too restrictive.

With the two-pronged test, the police must show that they have good reason to believe the allegation made by a tipster.  If they cannot, they must prove through investigation that some of the allegations are true.  If they cannot do either of these things, they must not be given a search warrant.  By contrast, the totality of circumstances test asks the judge to decide if there is a "fair probablity" that evidence of crime will be found if a warrant is issued.

I would argue that the two-pronged test is too limiting.  We know that many people are very reluctant to get involved in criminal matters.  They do not want their names to be known lest their identities become known to the criminals, for example.  Because of this, many tips the police receive are anonymous.  This makes it very difficult to satisfy the two-pronged test in large number of instances.  A fair-minded judge, applying the totality of circumstances test, is sufficient protection for the rights of accused people.