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  • LIMITS OF A POLICE SEARCH

    WHEN CAN POLICE LEGALLY STOP AND SEARCH YOU?

    In the United States, a “Terry stop” is a brief detention of a person by police[1] on reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity but short of probable cause to arrest.

    The name derives from Terry v. Ohio, a 1968 Supreme Court Case, in which the Court held that police could briefly detain a person who they reasonably suspect is involved in criminal activity. The Court also held that police may do a limited search of the suspect’s outer garments for weapons if they have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the person detained may be “armed and dangerous.” When a search for weapons is authorized, the procedure is known as a “stop and frisk”.

    To have reasonable suspicion that would justify a stop, police must be able to point to “specific and articulable facts” that would indicate to a reasonable person that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed. Reasonable suspicion depends on the “totality of the circumstances”, and can result from a combination of facts, each of which is by itself innocuous.

    The search of the suspect’s outer garments, also known as a patdown, must be limited to what is necessary to discover weapons; however, pursuant to the “plain feel” doctrine, police may seize contraband discovered in the course of a frisk, but only if the contraband’s identity is immediately apparent.

    If you feel that your rights were violated during a police encounter the first thing you should do is consult with a defense attorney.  The attorney may be able to determine early on whether evidence and/or statements made were obtained/provided improperly. That determination will go a long way assessing the strengths of arguments available for your defense.

    Rouse & Co., LLC Attorneys at Law is an established personal injury, DUI and Criminal Defense Law firm that serves clients in Atlanta, Georgia as well as Snellville, Loganville, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Suwanee, Duluth, Norcross, Buford, Monroe, Conyers, Convington, Stockbridge, Riverdale, Jonesboro, Fayetteville, Douglasville, Decatur, Doraville, Tucker, Fairburn, College Park, East Point, Peachtree City, Midtown Atlanta, North Atlanta, Buckhead, Marietta, Forest Park, Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Union City, Roswell, and Sandy Springs; we serve communities in a variety of counties including but not limited to: Gwinnett County, DeKalb County, Clayton County, Henry County, Newton County, Rockdale County, Walton County, Fayette County, Hall County, etc.
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