Stopping and detaining suspects in public are two of the many tools used by police to catch criminals. This is why Florida has what is known as the “Stop and Frisk” law. It allows law enforcement to question and search individuals who they suspect of committing a crime. While controversy surrounds this law, it is vital to understand how it works so you know your rights when being stopped by the police.
What Does “Stop and Frisk” Mean?
Under the Florida Stop and Frisk law, police may stop any person who has:
“Committed, is committing, or is about to commit a violation of the criminal laws of this state or the criminal ordinances of any municipality or county. The officer may temporarily detain such person for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of the person temporarily detained and the circumstances surrounding the person’s presence abroad, which led the officer to believe that the person had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a criminal offense.”
This means that if a police officer has reasonable suspicion that a person has or will commit a crime, they may temporarily detain that person. That person must identify him or herself and answer police questions, or they could possibly be arrested.
What About the Fourth Amendment?
This law has brought a great deal of controversy. This is because people view Stop and Frisk laws as a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This amendment guarantees, “The right of the people… against unreasonable searches and seizures, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation…”
However, under the Stop and Frisk Law, police officers do not need a warrant to search and question an individual. While Stop and Frisk Laws were declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1968 case of Terry v. Ohio, there are still many people who see this as a violation of the constitution.
What About Illegal Stop and Frisks?
If a police officer has a mere “hunch” rather than reasonable suspicion, it is not enough to stop and frisk a person. Therefore, any evidence found during this search is inadmissible.
If you believe you have been the victim of an illegal stop and frisk, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at KLG. We will fight vigorously for your rights. Do not gamble with your freedom and call KLG today!