Is it Legal to Stop and Frisk in California?

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In the recent past, stop and frisk laws have come under scrutiny due to racial and social issues, politics, and criminal justice reform. As a result, many citizens are confused about what constitutes a legal search of your person in California. State law explains that law enforcement may temporarily detain a suspect, without an arrest warrant, under the following circumstances:

  • They have “reasonable suspicion” that you have been involved in criminal activity.
  • They are justified in believing that you may be armed and dangerous and must perform a pat-down of your person.

Stop and frisk laws stem from the fourth amendment of the constitution, which protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures. If you are stopped and frisked and believe your rights have been violated, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Monterey criminal defense attorney.

What is reasonable suspicion?

To perform a lawful stop of your person in the first place, police must have reasonable suspicion that you have or are about to commit a crime. For example, police observe a man dressed in black snooping around the windows of a nearby residence. Concerned that a crime may be afoot, they observe the man and notice him approach the side door and begin fidgeting with the lock while anxiously looking over his shoulder.

Under these circumstances, based on the ruling in Terry v. Ohio, it would likely be lawful for police to detain the man and perform a pat-down of his outer clothing to ensure he was not armed with a dangerous weapon.

What are your rights during a stop and frisk in California?

An unlawful stop and frisk, or Terry stop, is a serious civil rights violation that you should not take lightly. First, contact your attorney and explain the details of your case. If the police did not have grounds to stop you in the first police, any subsequent evidence they found, as a result, may not be admissible in a court of law.

If police stop you for suspicion of committing a crime, you do not have to identify yourself. While many states have “stop and identify” laws, California does not. You can find out if police have reasonable suspicion by asking if you are free to leave or if you are being detained. If law enforcement says, you are being detained on suspicion of breaking the law, refusing to ID yourself may prolong the detention.

Formidable criminal defense team protects your rights

Giuliano Law advocates passionately for California clients who have been wrongfully stopped and frisked. If you believe your civil right against unlawful search and seizures has been violated, call (831) 257-8692 or contact us today.

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