A Terry stop in the United States allows the police to briefly detain a person based on reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause which is needed for arrest. When police stop and search a pedestrian, this is commonly known as a stop and frisk. When police stop an automobile, this is known as a traffic stop. If the police stop a motor vehicle on minor infringements in order to investigate other suspected criminal activity, this is known as a pretextual stop. Additional rules apply to stops that occur on a bus.
There is a difference between one police officer stopping one individual, which is a tactical definition, and systematic promotion of this tactic on either the departmental or municipal level, which can damage police–community trust and lead to charges of racial profiling.
Although the Supreme Court has published many cases that define the intersection between policing and the Fourth Amendment in America, the U.S. Congress has not defined a baseline for police behavior. There has been some state action at both the legislative and judicial levels, and also some cities have passed laws on these issues. Except where noted, this article will primarily deal with these issues on a national level. Local and state laws may vary, but that is the exception and not the rule.
|The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,...||Reasonableness|
|...and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.||Warrant|
The concept of a Terry stops originated in the 1968 Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio, in which a police officer detained three Cleveland men on the street behaving suspiciously, as if they were preparing for armed robbery. The police conducted a pat down search and discovered a revolver, and subsequently, two of the men were convicted of carrying a concealed weapon. The men appealed their case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the revolver was found during an illegal search under the Fourth Amendment. This brief detention and search were deemed admissible by the court, judging that the officer had reasonable suspicion which could be articulated (not just a hunch) that the person detained may be armed and dangerous. It is key to note that not just "mere" suspicion was used, but "reasonable" suspicion which could be articulated at a later date.
This decision was made during a period of great social unrest in America in the 1960s, with rising crime, antiwar protests and race riots. It was thought that law enforcement needed to be provided with tools to deal with the unrest and new issues of urban crime. Some criticized the decision for watering down the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, others praised it for balancing safety and individual rights.:94
To have reasonable suspicion that would justify a stop, police must have "specific and articulable facts" that indicate the person to be stopped is or is about to be engaged in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion depends on the "totality of the circumstances". Reasonable suspicion is a vague term and the Supreme Court concluded it should be decided on a case-by-case basis. Often it is built out of a combination of facts, each of which would, in itself, not be enough justification for the stop.
|Types of police-civilian encounters|
|Consensual encounter||Requires neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion|
|Terry stop (investigative detention)||Requires reasonable suspicion|
|Arrest||Requires probable cause|
The suspicion must be individualized. Suspecting people because they fit into a broad category, such as being in a particular location, being of a particular race or ethnicity, or fitting a profile, are insufficient for reasonable suspicion. However, stop-and-frisk has been validated on the basis of furtive movements; inappropriate attire; carrying suspicious objects such as a television or a pillowcase; vague, nonspecific answers to routine questions; refusal to identify oneself; and appearing to be out of place.
The cases following Terry expanded the power of the police. While the original case was concerned with armed violence and firsthand observation by officers, Adams v. Williams (1972) extended the doctrine to drug possession backed up by the secondhand hearsay of an informant. United States v. Hensley (1985) ruled that police officers may stop and question suspects when they believe they recognize them from "wanted" flyers issued by another police department. In Illinois v. Wardlow (2000), a person's unprovoked flight from Chicago police officers in "an area known for heavy narcotics trafficking" constituted reasonable suspicion to stop him.
Usually during a Terry stop, the police ask those they detain to identify themselves. Several states require people to provide their names to the police. In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada (2004), these stop and identify statutes were deemed constitutional.
Lacking reasonable suspicion, police may stop an individual based on a hunch, constituting a "consensual" stop. United States v. Mendenhall found that police are not generally required to advise an individual that he has been stopped on a consensual basis and that he may leave at any time. An individual can typically determine if a stop is consensual by asking, "Am I free to go?" If the officer responds in the negative or does not respond, the individual is being detained under a Terry stop; otherwise the individual may leave. Mendenhall also found that a consensual stop can be converted into an unconstitutional Terry stop by circumstances such as "the threatening presence of several officers, the display of a weapon by an officer, some physical touching of the person of the citizen, or the use of language or tone of voice indicating that compliance with the officer's request might be compelled." Police who conduct an unconstitutional Terry stop can face administrative discipline and a civil suit.
A frisk, also known as a patdown, of the surface of a suspect's garments is permitted during a Terry stop, but must be limited to what is necessary to discover weapons, and must be based on a reasonable suspicion the individual may be armed. However, pursuant to the plain feel doctrine, police may seize contraband discovered in the course of a frisk, but only if the contraband's identity is immediately apparent.
The Supreme Court has placed very liberal requirements on what is "immediately apparent" in regards to contraband. For example, in conducting a pat-down search, an officer feels a hard pack of cigarettes, the officer removes the pack and examines the inside, discovering drugs. He can be allowed to do this because he has prior knowledge, based on experience, that a small switchblade or tiny gun could be hidden in such a box.
Subsequent court cases have expanded the definition of what constitutes a frisk, and what is considered as admissible evidence. In Michigan v. Long, Terry stops were extended to searching the inside of a car passenger compartment if police have reasonable suspicion an occupant may have access to a weapon there. In Minnesota v. Dickerson, the court ruled that "immediately recognized" contraband discovered during a Terry stop is also a lawful seizure.
Just as important to understanding Fourth Amendment rights surrounding Terry stops are cases which fall outside of Fourth Amendment protection. Based on the Supreme Court decision in Schneckloth v. Bustamonte (1972), a person waives Fourth Amendment protections when giving voluntary consent to a search. Police are not required to inform a person of their right to decline the search. Justice Marshall, in his dissent in the case, said it is a "curious result that one can choose to relinquish a constitutional right—the right to be free from unreasonable searches—without knowing that he has the alternative of refusing to accede to a police request". Currently, several cities and states require police to inform citizens of their right to deny a search.
For practical purposes, a traffic stop is essentially the same as a Terry stop; for the duration of a stop, driver and passengers are "seized" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that drivers and passengers may be ordered out of the vehicle without violating the Fourth Amendment's proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures. Drivers and passengers may be patted down for weapons upon reasonable suspicion they are armed and dangerous. If police reasonably suspect the driver or any of the occupants may be dangerous and that the vehicle may contain a weapon to which an occupant may gain access, police may perform a protective search of the passenger compartment. Otherwise, lacking a warrant or the driver's consent, police may not search the vehicle, but under the "plain view" doctrine may seize and use as evidence weapons or contraband that are visible from outside the vehicle.
As decided in Ohio v. Robinette (1996), once an officer returns the drivers identification, there is no requirement that the officer inform the driver they are free to go. Therefore, although the encounter has been turned into a consensual encounter, questioning can continue, including a request to search the vehicle.
Pretextual stops are a subset of traffic stops deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court in Whren v. United States (1996). They occur when a police officer wishes to investigate a motorist on other suspicions, generally related to drug possession, and uses a minor traffic infringement as a pretext to stop the driver. In the case of Whren, the defense used a "would have" rule; would a reasonable police officer have made the stop without the suspicion of other criminal behavior. On the surface, this is a sensible ruling, but there is much controversy about whether it leaves the door open to racial profiling. This is due to the fact that there are numerous petty violations a driver may violate and the officer can be selective about who to pull over to investigate. Currently the following 17 states ban pretextual stops based solely upon racial profiling or other immutable factors: AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, KS, MD, MS, MT, NE, NJ, NM, OK, RI, UT, and WV.
The following states require stop-and-frisk data collection: AL, CA, CT, FL, IL, LA, MD, MA, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NV, RI, TX, WA, and WV. States that require this data to be published are: AL, CA, CT, FL, IL, KS, LA, MD, MA, MO, NE, NV, RI, TX, and WV. Using public records requests, the Stanford Open Policing project amassed 60 million state traffic stops in 20 states over the period 2011 through 2015.
North Carolina was the first state in the country to require the release of all traffic stop data starting in 2000. Researchers have analysed 20 million traffic stops from this data finding that blacks as a share of the population were twice as likely to be pulled over than whites and four times as likely to be searched. Hispanics were not more likely to be pulled over, but had a higher likelihood of being searched.
There is a push to release more open police data nationwide. For example, the White House launched the Police Data Initiative which, as of 2018, has 130 participating police departments, some of which provide data sets on stop-and-frisk. But, this is a very small percentage of the 17,000 police departments nationwide, only accounting for around 15% of the country's population.
An arrest is the act of apprehending a person and taking them into custody, usually because they have been suspected of committing or planning a crime. After the person is taken into custody, they can be questioned further and/or charged. An arrest is a procedure in a criminal justice system.
Police and various other officers have powers of arrest. In some places, a citizen's arrest is permitted; for example in England and Wales, any person can arrest "anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing, have committed or be guilty of committing an indictable offence," although certain conditions must be met before taking such action.Similar powers exist in France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland if a person is caught in an act of crime and not willing or able to produce valid ID.
As a safeguard against the abuse of power, many countries require that an arrest must be made for a thoroughly justified reason, such as the requirement of probable cause in the United States. Furthermore, the time that a person can be detained in custody is relatively short (in most cases 24 hours in the United Kingdom and France and 24 or 48 hours in the United States) before the detained person must be either charged or released.Chargesheet
A chargesheet is a prepaFIRs, and charges an individual or organization for (some or all of) the crimes specified in those FIR(s). Once the chargesheet has been submitted to a court of law, the court decides as to who among the accused has sufficient prima facie evidence against him to be put on trial. After the court pronounces its order on framing of charges, prosecution proceedings against the accused begin in the judicial system.Consent search
Consent searches (or consensual searches) are searches made by police officers in the United States based on the voluntary consent of the individual whose person or property is being searched. The simplest and most common type of warrantless searches in the United States are searches based upon consent. No warrant, probable cause or reasonable suspicion is required to perform a search if a person, or someone else with the proper authority, consents to a search.
A consent search assumes the individual, whose person or property is being searched, is aware that they have the right to refuse a search in a situation when confronted by law enforcement agents. By giving consent they are assumed to waive, freely and voluntarily, his or her Fourth Amendment rights, granting the officer permission to perform the search. Where consent is obtained through "deception" on the part of the police officer, the search may be determined to be an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The three main categories of searches are a search of a house, automobile or pedestrian. In the case of an automobile, it is assumed the officer has already seized the car and the encounter is a terry stop. When an officer returns a driver's identification, the encounter has been transformed into a consensual encounter. In the case of a pedestrian, a consensual encounter can lead to a terry stop based on information gathered during conversation. Some states and cities pass laws that require officer to notify a right to refuse in one case, but not the others.
The person has the right to refuse to give consent, and except in limited cases may revoke consent at any point during the search. In addition, the prosecution in any trial using the search results as evidence is required to prove that the consent was voluntary and not a result of coercion.In contrast to Miranda rights, officers conducting a consent search are not required to warn people of their right to withhold consent in order for consent to be valid, as determined by the U.S. Supreme Court in Schneckloth v. Bustamonte. Police are not required to conduct a search in a way that gives the individual an opportunity to revoke consent, as determined in United States v. Rich, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected the argument that “officials must conduct all searches in plain view of the suspect, and in a manner slowly enough that he may withdraw or delimit his consent at any time during the search.”First information report
A first information report (F.I.R.) is a written document prepared by police organizations in countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan etc. when they receive information about the commission of a cognisable offence, or in Singapore when the police receives information about any criminal offence. It is generally a complaint lodged with the police by the victim of a cognizable offense or by someone on his or her behalf, but anyone can make such a report either orally or in writing to the police. Investigating work of the police starts after an FIR is recorded.
For a non-cognisable offense a community service register is created and registered.
FIR is an important document because it sets the process of criminal justice in motion. It is only after the FIR is registered in the police station that the police take up investigation of the case. Anyone who knows about the commission of a cognizable offence, including police officers, can file an F.I.R.
As described in law:
When information about the commission of a cognizable offence is given orally, the police must write it down.
The person giving information or making a complaint has a right to demand that the information recorded by the police be read to him or her.
Once the information has been recorded by the police, it must be signed by the person giving the information.
The person giving a complaint can get a free copy of an F.I.R.An F.I.R. includes date, time, place, detail, description.Frisking
Frisking (also called a patdown or pat down) is a search of a person's outer clothing wherein a person runs his or her hands along the outer garments to detect any concealed weapons.Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada
Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, 542 U.S. 177 (2004), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that statutes requiring suspects to disclose their names during a police Terry stop did not violate the Fourth Amendment if the statute first required reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal involvement. Under the rubric of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), the minimal intrusion on a suspect's privacy, and the legitimate need of law enforcement officers to quickly dispel suspicion that an individual is engaged in criminal activity, justified requiring a suspect to disclose his or her name.
The Court also held that the identification requirement did not violate Hiibel's Fifth Amendment rights since he did not articulate a reasonable belief that his name would be used to incriminate him; however, the Court left open the possibility that Fifth Amendment privilege might apply in a situation where there was an articulated reasonable belief that giving a name could be incriminating.The Hiibel decision was narrow in that it applied only to states that have stop and identify statutes. Consequently, individuals in states without such statutes cannot be lawfully arrested solely for refusing to identify themselves during a Terry stop.Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Delgado
Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Delgado, 466 U.S. 210 (1984), was a United States Supreme Court decision finding that a police demand of an individual to identify himself would convert a consensual stop to a Terry stop, whereas a mere request would not.The case concerned whether the restrictions placed on government officials by the Fourth Amendment applied to “factory sweeps” by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), in particular two factory sweeps conducted in January and September 1977. During these sweeps, INS agents surveyed the Southern California Davis Pleating Co. in search of illegal alien workers. The agents were acting in accordance with two warrants. Neither of these warrants identified any particular individuals, but showed probable cause that there may be a number of aliens working on the premises. Workers were systematically questioned to determine their citizenship status and asked to produce their immigration papers if their answers were not satisfactory. Agents were stationed at the doors, though there is no record of whether this was meant to restrain the workers in question or merely to ensure that everyone was properly questioned. Four of the employees questioned filed actions against the INS in 1978, arguing that the sweeps violated their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and their right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment. 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 searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The case hinged not on whether the search was reasonable or there was probable cause for a seizure of the workforce, but whether a seizure took place at all, and therefore whether the protections of the Fourth Amendment applied.  The Court held that the survey of the factory was instead an instance of “mere questing”; the Court has adopted, as a rule, the theory that not every interaction between police or government officials and citizens qualifies as a search or seizure, and that officials can approach and speak with people so long as the interaction is clearly consensual. The decision therefore depended largely on whether the presence of INS agents at the doors of the factory, and the manner in general with which the workers were approached and questioned, were truly consensual or included acts of restraint or coercion.Indictment
An indictment ( in-DYT-mənt) is a criminal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that use the concept of felonies, the most serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that do not use the felonies concept often use that of an indictable offence, an offence that requires an indictment.Motor vehicle exception
The motor vehicle exception is a legal rule in the United States that modifies the normal probable cause requirement of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and, when applicable, allows a police officer to search a motor vehicle without a search warrant.Probable cause
In United States criminal law, probable cause is the standard by which police authorities have reason to obtain a warrant for the arrest of a suspected criminal or the issuing of a search warrant. It is also the standard by which grand juries issue criminal indictments. The principle behind the standard is to limit the power of authorities to perform random or abusive searches (unlawful search and seizure), and to promote lawful evidence gathering and procedural form during criminal arrest and prosecution. The standard also applies to personal or property searches.The term comes from the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution:
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 searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Probable in this case may relate to statistical probability or to a general standard of common behavior and customs. The context of the word probable here is not exclusive to community standards, and could partially derive from its use in formal mathematical statistics as some have suggested; but cf. probō, Latin etymology.In U.S. immigration proceedings, the “reason to believe” standard has been interpreted as equivalent to probable cause.Search of persons
Police officers in various jurisdictions have power to search members of the public, for example, for weapons, drugs and stolen property. This article concerns searches of members of the public who have not been arrested and who are not held in detention. For search powers in relation to those persons see Search on arrest and Searches in detention. For searches of property, rather than people, see search and seizure.Self-incrimination
Self-incrimination is the act of exposing oneself generally, by making a statement, "to an accusation or charge of crime; to involve oneself or another [person] in a criminal prosecution or the danger thereof". Self-incrimination can occur either directly or indirectly: directly, by means of interrogation where information of a self-incriminatory nature is disclosed; or indirectly, when information of a self-incriminatory nature is disclosed voluntarily without pressure from another person.In many legal systems, accused criminals cannot be compelled to incriminate themselves—they may choose to speak to police or other authorities, but they cannot be punished for refusing to do so. There are 108 countries and jurisdictions that currently have Miranda-type warnings, which include the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel. These laws are not uniform across the world, however members of the European Union have developed their laws around the EU's guide regarding Miranda-type law.Stop-and-frisk in New York City
The stop-question-and-frisk program, or stop-and-frisk, in New York City, is a New York City Police Department practice of temporarily detaining, questioning, and at times searching civilians on the street for weapons and other contraband. This is what is known in other places in the United States as the Terry stop. The rules for stop, question, and frisk are found in the state's criminal procedure law section 140.50, and are based on the decision of the US Supreme Court in the case of Terry v. Ohio.
12,404 stops were made in 2016. The stop-and-frisk program has previously taken place on a much wider scale. Between 2003 and 2013, over 100,000 stops were made per year, with 685,724 people being stopped at the height of the program in 2011. The program became the subject of a racial profiling controversy. The vast majority, 90% in 2017, of those stopped were African-American or Latino, most of whom were aged 14–24. Furthermore, 70% of all those stopped were later found to be innocent. The racial disparity persists even after controlling for precinct variability and race-specific estimates of crime participation.Stop and identify statutes
"Stop and identify" statutes are statutory laws in the United States that authorize police to legally demand the identity of someone whom they reasonably suspect of having committed a crime. If there is no reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed, an individual is not required to provide identification, even in "Stop and ID" states.The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) established that it is constitutionally permissible for police to temporarily detain a person based on an articulable reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, and to conduct a patdown for weapons based on a reasonable belief that the person is armed. The question whether it is constitutionally permissible for the police to demand that a detainee provide his or her name was considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, 542 U.S. 177 (2004), which held that the name disclosure did not violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. The Hiibel case also held that, because Hiibel had no reasonable belief that his name would be used to incriminate him, the name disclosure did not violate the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; however, the Court left open the possibility that Fifth Amendment right might apply in situations where there was a reasonable belief that giving a name could be incriminating. The Court accepted the Nevada supreme court interpretation of the Nevada statute that a detained person could satisfy the Nevada law by simply stating his name.
The Court did not rule on whether particular identification cards could be required, though the court did mention a California law requiring "credible and reliable" identification had been struck down for vagueness.Terry v. Ohio
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in which the Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures is not violated when a police officer stops a suspect on the street and frisks him or her without probable cause to arrest, if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime and has a reasonable belief that the person "may be armed and presently dangerous."
For their own protection, after a person has been stopped, police may perform a quick surface search of the person's outer clothing for weapons if they have reasonable suspicion that the person stopped is armed. This reasonable suspicion must be based on "specific and articulable facts" and not merely upon an officer's hunch. This permitted police action has subsequently been referred to in short as a "stop and frisk," or simply a "Terry frisk". The Terry standard was later extended to temporary detentions of persons in vehicles, known as traffic stops; see Terry stop for a summary of subsequent jurisprudence.The rationale behind the Supreme Court decision revolves around the understanding that, as the opinion notes, "the exclusionary rule has its limitations." The meaning of the rule is to protect persons from unreasonable searches and seizures aimed at gathering evidence, not searches and seizures for other purposes (like prevention of crime or personal protection of police officers).United States v. Fuentes
United States v. Fuentes, 105 F.3d 487 (9th Cir. 1997), was a 1997 case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that "Mere refusal to consent to a stop or search does not give rise to reasonable suspicion or probable cause." The case involved a Terry stop at an airport of a suspected drug smuggler, and his subsequent flight attempt from Drug Enforcement Administration agents that, along with other suspicious factors, did give the officers probable cause to arrest him.United States v. Mendenhall
United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544 (1980), was a United States Supreme Court case.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard the appeal of Ms. Sylvia Mendenhall as pertaining to Ms. Mendenhall's alleged unconstitutional seizure by two DEA agents at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The court ruled against the defendant in a 5–4 majority, though the court's Dissent shows confusion as to the majority vote.
The decision notably set a standard by which a valid consensual stop could be converted into an unconstitutional Terry stop, such as by "the threatening presence of several officers, the display of a weapon by an officer, some physical touching of the person of the citizen, or the use of language or tone of voice indicating that compliance with the officer's request might be compelled."