Terry V. Ohio

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Facts: In October on 1963, a Cleveland police office saw two men, John Terry and Richard Chilton standing on a street corner and appearing suspicious. One of them would walk past a certain store window, look around inside, and walk back to the other and talk for a short period of time. This was repeated about a dozen times, and the detective believed they were casing the store for a robbery. The officer approached the two, identified himself as a policeman, and asked their names. They then appeared suspicious in their answers, so the officer patted them down for weapons and discovered that both men were armed. He removed their guns and arrested them on charges of carrying concealed weapons. When the trial court denied his motion to suppress, Terry pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison. The U.S. Supreme court then heard is case.

Issue: Does a police officer have the permission under the fourth amendment to stop and search a person without being issued a warrant?

Decision: Yes he does have the right to search a person without a warrant, but only with the fact of probable cause that a crime either has or will be committed. And that the search is only for the safety of the officer.

Reasoning: The court decided that any time an officer restrains a person's ability to walk away, that person is seized. The court also said that a patting of outer clothing is in itself a search. Therefore, the judgment here is as to whether or not the actions were considered reasonable. They went on to state that police must have probable cause and a warrant to perform a search. Yet, during on-the-spot observations during a beat, it is not likely or reasonable for an officer to obtain a warrant to search an individual. However, good faith or a hunch alone cannot be enough to determine a situation unpractical, and to override these rules. The court believed that the actions the officer witnessed were enough to allow the officer to reasonably suspect...
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