Stop And Frisk Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Stop And Frisk, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Stop And Frisk?

(n) Stop and Frisk is the body search undertaken by the law enforcing officers, limiting the search to feeling the bulge and apparent visibility , to unearth any weapon hidden under cover of the dress. Such search is also called as ‘pat down’ may not require an official search warrant or a probable cause for search .

History and Meaning of Stop and Frisk

Stop and Frisk is a police practice that involves stopping someone for suspicion of criminal activity and frisking them for weapons or other contraband. The origins of this practice can be traced back to the Supreme Court case of Terry v. Ohio in 1968, where the court acknowledged that police officers must have a reasonable suspicion that the person they are stopping is involved in criminal activity. The decision also stated that patting down a suspect for weapons is allowed for officer safety as long as it is done in a way that is not excessively intrusive.

In recent years, Stop and Frisk has become a controversial issue, with some civil rights groups claiming that it is a form of racial profiling and violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. In response to the controversy, some cities have reduced or eliminated the use of Stop and Frisk as a police tactic.

Examples of Stop and Frisk

  1. A police officer sees a person acting suspiciously and decides to stop and frisk them. During the search, the officer finds a weapon and arrests the person for carrying a concealed weapon.
  2. A group of young men are walking down the street late at night, and a police officer believes they might be involved in criminal activity. The officer stops and frisks them for weapons or drugs, but finds nothing and lets them go.
  3. A person is driving erratically and is pulled over by a police officer. The officer smells alcohol on their breath and decides to perform a Stop and Frisk search for weapons.

Legal Terms Similar to Stop and Frisk

  1. Reasonable suspicion: A legal standard used by police officers that requires them to have a belief, based on specific facts, that a person is involved in criminal activity.
  2. Probable cause: A higher legal standard that requires police officers to have a reasonable belief, based on specific facts, that a person has committed a crime or is about to commit a crime.
  3. Search and seizure: A Fourth Amendment protection that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, including police officers.