Constitutionality of Stop and Frisk

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The Constitutionality of the Stop and Frisk

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. It also states that no warrants shall be issued without a probable cause. Modern jurisprudence has afforded police officers an incentive to respect the amendment. The Stop and Frisk law allows police officers to stop someone and do a quick search of their outer clothes for weapons if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a crime has or is about to take place and the person stopped is armed or dangerous. The reasonable suspicion must be based with specific articulable facts and not on just an officer’s hunch. The Stop and Frisk law balances crime control, protects an individual’s right, and prevents unreasonable searches.

The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be seized (Lehman 471-476).” This amendment can be broken into 2 distinct parts the reasonableness clause and the warrant clause.

In the beginning, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted the conventional Fourth Amendment approach, which says the warrant and reasonableness clauses are firmly connected. The reasonableness clause protects the people’s right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The reasonable clause has to pass the reasonableness test, which consists of two elements that the government has to prove; balancing element and objective basis. The balancing element is the need to search and/or seize outweighs the invasion of liberty and privacy rights of the individuals. The objective basis is when there are enough facts to back up the search and/or seizure. The warrant clauses states that only warrants and probable cause are reasonable. It was not until the 1960’s when...
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