Stop & Frisk Laws Allow Police to Search Suspects Without Warrants
According to the United States Constitution, every American citizen has the right to be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. In 1968, the Supreme Court gave law enforcement the authority to use a tool known as stop-and-frisk if there is reasonable belief that a crime is about to be committed, or if it appears as though a person may have dangerous weapons in his or her possession. However, there is difference between a stop and an arrest (taking an individual into custody) and a frisk and search.
Police may stop those who seem to be reasonably suspicious. This includes people who appear highly emotional, angry, scared, or drunk. Being present in a crime scene area, engaging in suspicious movements, or running away from something or someone can also cause a person to be stopped by police. Justified stops may happen to individuals who match the description of a wanted felon or to those who may be in a high crime area. Depending on the situation, physical force may or may not be used when stopping an individual.
Frisks are used to ensure that the safety of police and others is not in jeopardy. Law enforcement may frisk someone if they believe that the person is carrying a concealed weapon, or the officers believe the person is going to commit a crime using a weapon. If a police officer does not have back up or is acting alone and believes the individual is being evasive when questioned; or if the number of suspects, their size, movements or appearance is believed to be a threat, they may proceed with a justified frisk.
Violation of Constitutional Rights
Law enforcement agencies may reward and promote officers based on the frequency of stop-and-frisks that result in recovering firearms or illegal drugs. These types of incentives put the public at a disadvantage and can sometimes be a violation of constitutional rights. Furthermore, if not executed properly, stop-and-frisk tactics can cause peaceful, law abiding citizens to become fearful of police in their communities.
Some citizens believe that the stop-and-frisk tactic is extreme and allows officers excessive power. Moreover, statistics show that individuals living in low income areas, or areas with a high minority population, are stopped and searched far more often than people living in affluent areas or places with lower populations of minority citizens. The stop and frisk tactic was originally designed to aid police in catching criminals in order to benefit the public. Unfortunately, because this tool has been misused, it is now considered one of the most controversial police procedures in the country.
Cherry Hill Criminal Lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, Upholds the Constitutional Rights of New Jersey Residents
Cherry Hill criminal lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, has over 30 years experience in protecting the constitutional rights of New Jersey residents. As a former prosecutor, Jill Cohen provides strong criminal defenses for those formally charged with crimes in New Jersey. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in New Jersey, call the Law Offices of Camden County Criminal Lawyer, Jill R. Cohen or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Westmont, New Jersey serving clients throughout South Jersey, Camden County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County and Burlington County, including the townships of Haddonfield, Camden, Cherry Hill, Collingswood and Pennsauken.