When Can a Police Officer “Stop and Frisk” Me? When is it Unconstitutional

By: Wallin & Klarich

An officer who encounters a person under circumstances which reasonably indicate that such a person has committed or was about to commit a crime may temporarily stop that person. The surrounding facts and circumstances dictate (1) the reasonableness of such a police stop and (2) whether the stop rose to the level of a “detention.” Being stopped briefly and subsequently held and detained triggers numerous constitutional protections and exceptions.

Depending upon the surrounding facts and circumstances known to the officer, a lawful stop or police contact may be justified. An officer may extend that stop to a “detention” and perform what is known as a “stop and frisk.”

A “stop and frisk” is generally constitutional when an officer has:
(1) A reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior and/or;
(2) A reasonable concern for officer safety.
These elements apply both at the scene of a routine traffic stop and on the street.

An officer will need more than a mere “hunch” of criminal activity or officer safety concerns. The reasonableness of a challenged “stop and frisk” will depend upon a careful analysis and critique of the officer’s police report. The court will look for an indication that a “stop and frisk” decision was reasonable and rational under the circumstances.

Be sure that your rights are adequately protected if you are facing criminal accusations. The best way to do this is to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have been in practice for over 30 years and can help you ensure the protection of your rights. Call us today at 888-749-0034 or visit us online at www.wklaw.com. We will be there for you when you call.

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