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When are the police legally entitled to stop and search me?

Posted by John P. Rutkowski | May 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

As citizens we all have the right to walk down the street without fear of being stopped and harassed by the police. If you are not committing a crime or about to commit a crime you have no duty to stop and talk to the police. However, if the police have reasonable suspicion to believe you have or are about to commit a crime, they do have the authority to stop you and if there is reason to believe you may be armed, they can legally search you, usually through a pat down or frisk of you body. At this point you do not have the right to refuse to speak to the police and if you do there is a high probability you will be arrested for obstructing a criminal investigation or, depending on the time of day and location, you may be charged with loitering and prowling. Which means you are in a place, at a time and in a manner which is not usual for a law abiding citizen.

This type of stop is known as a “Terry” stop. It comes from a 1968 case of Terry v. Ohio in which the United States Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendments prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures is not violated when a police officer stops a suspect on the street, if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime and if he/she has a reasonable belief that the person may be armed may perform a quick pat down of the person for weapons.

About the Author.
Mr. Rutkowski has been practicing law for the past twenty-three years. Prior to practicing law Mr. Rutkowski served twelve years as a deputy sheriff, retiring to attend law school. Starting his law-enforcement career as a patrol deputy which included two years on the DUI squad; Mr. Rutkowski moved up the ranks becoming a corporal in the field training program which give him the responsibility for training new recruits. After law school Mr. Rutkowski became an Assist State Attorney where he prosecuted misdemeanor and felony crimes before dedicating his law practice solely to criminal defense attorney

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About the Author

John P. Rutkowski

Mr. Rutkowski has been practicing law for the past twenty-five years. Prior to going to law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a deputy sheriff before retiring to attend law school. Upon graduating law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a prosecutor in Florida before going in to private practice and representing clients in three states.


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John P. Rutkowski, Attorney at Law, firm represents clients in the area of driving under the influence, boating under the influence, Criminal & Civil Traffic Offenses. Contact me today for a free telephone consultation.