Fighting Back Against Stop-and-Frisk

On June 17, 2012, protesters marched against NYPD’s aggressive stop-and-frisk policy.

This video is about their march.

The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from violating “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Additionally, the Fourth Amendment prohibits the issuance of warrants except on a showing of “probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Thus, the Fourth Amendment protects individual liberty by prohibiting unwarranted police conduct—
except for the exceptions.


stop-and-frisk, constitution, fourth amendment, search and seizureOne exception permits police to stop-and-frisk individuals without a warrant. And this calls for proof that the police acted after forming a reasonable suspicion that:

  1. A crime may be afoot; and
  2. The suspect may be armed and dangerous.

Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

The first prong assesses the stop. To be certain, a stop is a warrantless seizure of the individual. Indeed, any time a cop stops a person and prevents him from walking away, he has seized that person. And the second prong assesses the frisk, which is a warrantless search. Id. at 16.

Nevertheless, to stop a person, the law only requires a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. And as to the frisk, the legal issue is whether the circumstances would warrant a reasonably prudent man in the belief that his safety or that of others was in danger. Both prongs require the police officer to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion. These requirements protect the right of the people against unreasonable searches and seizures.

But the Fourth Amendment does not enforce itself on the street. Instead, it guarantees at some point the conduct of the police will be subjected to review by a judge. Indeed, the judge must evaluate the reasonableness of a search or seizure against an objective standard.

Experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Mr. Smolensky can provide consultations on all cases regarding stops, searches, seizures, and arrests. Call Now—(856) 812-0321.