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Reasonable Suspicion

From lawbrain.com

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right of the people against unreasonable searches and seizures, "and no Warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause". Fundamentally, this amendment strives to protect the individual's rights to privacy and freedom from arbitrary invasions.

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Fourth Amendment - Overview

An individual is subject to a search when a government employee or agency infringes upon their reasonable expectation of privacy. An individual is subject to seizure when their possessory interest in property is subject to interference. He/she must have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the items seized. A person is subject to seizure when a person in the same or similar situation would not feel free to leave the situation. In both instances, the Fourth Amendment requires warrant substantiated by probable cause to justify the government's action.

Terry v. Ohio

However, an exception to the warrant requirement is the Terry stop. In 1968, the United States Supreme Court held in Terry v. Ohio that the Fourth Amendment is not violated when an officer stops a suspect on the street and searches him without probable cause. The court's broad ruling encompasses the unpredictable circumstances law enforcement experiences when attempting to apprehend a suspect. Due to the "rapidly unfolding and often dangerous situations on city streets the police are in need of an escalating set of flexible responses". For this purpose, the court drew distinctions between a Terry stop and frisk and an arrest which resulted in a search. The court believed the police should be allowed to stop and frisk upon "reasonable suspicion", based on "articulable facts", that he may be connected with criminal activity. If the stop and frisk give rise to probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed a crime, then the police should be empowered to make a formal arrest, and a full incident search of the person.[1] 

Related Cases

Contemporary Understanding of Reasonable Suspicion


  1. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=392&invol=1

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