Analysis and Application:
Police Encounters with Suspects and Evidence
Prof: Kurt Austin Zimmer
May 29, 2012
As long as there are people who engage in suspected criminal activity, there will always be the police with whom they will have an encounter. Good, bad or indifferent there will always be these questions that will need to be answered; were the police legally justified in the way they approached and carried out their encounter with the suspect? And, were there any exigent circumstances involved during the encounter? The following answers these questions. 1. Did Officer Smith have reasonable suspicion to make the initial stop of this vehicle? In the scenario set forth, Officer Smith is patrolling at night and notices the car in front of her appears to have a broken tail light and the light appears to have gold tape over it. So, she pulls it over. Initially, because it is night and it appears the tail light is broken, Officer Smith did have reasonable suspicion to stop this vehicle and an officer must have reasonable suspicion that some sort of criminal activity is about to transpire, or has recently transpired and that the vehicle or someone in the vehicle is directly connected with said criminal activity. (Roberson & Stuckey & Wallace, 2007) 2. Was the “pat-down” of the driver legal?
The pat-down of the driver was legal. “In Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1, this Court held that a “stop and frisk” may be conducted without violating the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures if two conditions are met. First, the investigatory stop (temporary detention) must be lawful, a requirement met in an on-the-street encounter when a police officer reasonably suspects that the person apprehended is committing or has committed a crime. Second, to proceed from a stop to a frisk (pat down for weapons), the officer must reasonably suspect that the person stopped is armed...
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