The concept of stop and frisk

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23 April 2016

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In an effort to maximize an individuals rights during search and seizures along with stop-and-frisks, the United States government has developed numerous laws and amendments. The Fourth Amendment states, The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched , and the persons or things to be seized (U.S. Constitution).

This amendment was first used in the court system in the case of Terry vs. Ohio (1968). This case was the case that shaped the stop-and-frisk laws that are found in our country today. In 1942 legislators started to authorize stops-and-frisks on less than probable cause under the Uniform Arrest Act. This act gave an officer the right stop a person in public based upon reasonable ground to suspect that the person is committing has committed, or is about to commit a crime, and then search him for a dangerous weapon if the officer has reasonable ground to believe that he is in danger (Whitebread, 2000).

In 1968 the Supreme Court addressed the issue in terry v. ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889. In Terry an experienced plainclothes officer observed three men acting suspiciously; they were walking back and forth on a street and peering into a particular store window. The officer concluded that the men were preparing to rob a nearby store and approached them. He identified himself as a police officer and asked for their names.

Unsatisfied with their responses, he then subjected one of the men to a frisk, which produced a gun for which the suspect had no permit. In this case the officer did not have a warrant nor did he have probable cause. He did suspect that the men were “casing” the store and planning a Robbery. The defendants argued the search was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment because it was not supported by probable cause.

The concept of stop and frisk
References Whitebread, C.H., & Slobogin, C. (2000). Criminal Procedure An Analysis Of Cases

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