Stop and Frisk: When Can a Police Officer Do that? Is Wearing A Hoodie Enough?

As tensions between regular people and the police have escalated, it’s important to remain calm and keep your composure if you are stopped, questioned or placed under arrest. It’s a tense situation for everyone involved and while you have rights, you don’t want to have things escalate because of a bad attitude or activity which makes matters worse.

If the police have a suspicion of criminal activity, an officer may briefly detain or frisk a person in a public place (keyword here is public) given that the officer has probable cause.Probable cause means that there is reasonable belief, based on facts and circumstances that can be articulated, that a criminal act has been committed. If that’s the situation, it does not mean you’ve been arrested.

A stop and frisk is when an officer who is suspicious of an individual stops and pats down the person. The “frisk” or “pat down” is to make sure the person stopped is not armed and dangerous. It is an outer search to locate a weapon. an If none is found, the search should not go further.

The police do not need a warrant to stop you on the street. They can do this if they believe a crime is underway and you are involved. Once you are stopped, you must remain. However, you don’t have to answer questions. You are required to produce your name and an I.D. card.

If you are placed under arrest, you will go with the officer to the police station. If you are not placed under arrest, you do not have to answer questions and can walk away.

If you’d like more information on your rights and how to conduct yourself in an informed manner in court, check out our book You’ve Been Arrested, Now What.

Susan G. Parker, Esq.

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