Legal Resources

Terry Stops & Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

A Terry Stop is the typical name for a police stop on foot, it gets its name from the supreme court case of “Terry vs Ohio 32 U.S. 1,” you will also find statutes within your State that follow the same rules. This case establishes the fact that an officer does not have to have probable cause as secured by the 4th amendment to stop a citizen, but only “Reasonable Suspicion” that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. However, the Supreme Court has also stated that an officer has to have “Specific and Articulable Facts” of what a person was doing that leads them to believe the person has done, is doing, or is about to commit a crime.

This means that if an officer cannot verbally state a crime they suspect you of committing, about to commit or have committed, OR, or a specific physical act that you were doing that leads them to the same conclusion, then you don’t have to give the police your name, ID or even talk to them. Simply and Politely ask them if you are being detained or if you’re free to go. If the officer still tells you that you are being detained without establishing any evidence of wrongdoing, then it is an unlawful detainment and the officer loses their “Qualified Immunity” leaving them open to a personal lawsuit and bond claim/lien.

With that being said, you still should be armed with as much law as possible at a police encounter in order to secure your rights, or get restitution in case your rights are violated. As stated, an officer needs Probable Cause to arrest, or to search and/or seize (that includes handcuff) a person during a police stop, but only reasonable articulable suspicion to detain and investigate.

Traffic Stops

When driving, the most important thing you can have in the car is a Dash-Cam. They cost anywhere from $30 – $200 on Amazon, and this is going to be your proof of what happened before, during and after the Police Stop. Police Officers often lie about why they pulled you over to get you to incriminate yourself, so having a record of what actually happened right before the officer pulls you over is TOP PRIORITY!

If you don’t have a Dash-Cam the first thing you want to do at a traffic stop is start recording immediately with your phone. Next, calmly place your hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer. When the officer gets to your window, again, calmly ask the officer why they pulled you over.

In most cases the officer will try to get you to give them your drivers license and registration before they tell you why they pulled you over, however you DO NOT have to do this until the officer establishes “Reasonable Suspicion” as to why they pulled you over. This is because of the 4th Amendment and following two Supreme Court cases..

Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648 (1979) &…
Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996)

These two cases established the law and fact that police officers MUST have Reasonable Suspicion to pull over a driver and ask them for their drivers license and registration. Until a police officer establishes this Reasonable Suspicion, meaning a lawful reason as to why they pulled you over, you don’t have to do ANYTHING they say! A police officer can only tell you what to do IF you’ve broken the law, so always make the officer prove, ESPECIALLY on camera that you’ve broken the law.

If the officer refuses to give you a reason for why they pulled you over until you give them your license and registration, calmly and respectfully ask for a supervisor. The supervisor will usually be a sergeant or lieutenant with slightly, to a great deal more knowledge than the patrol officer. In many cases police officers are not aware of the laws they’ve sworn to enforce and have to have it explained to them by a superior.

If the officer won’t call his or her supervisor or claims that they are the supervisor but still won’t tell you why they’ve pulled you over, The first thing to remember is not to get frustrated or angry because now this has become what is known as an “unlawful detainment” which is a violation of your Constitutional Rights and grounds for you to place a claim/lien on their Official Surety Bond and or sue them at a later date. For the time being, simply comply with the officers orders Under Protest ON CAMERA, and use The Law to do your talking for you after the police stop!

Probable Cause

The legal meaning of Probable Cause gets its definition from some of the following established Supreme Court cases…

Stacey v. Emery, 97 U.S. 642

“If the facts and circumstances before the officer are such as to warrant a man of prudence and caution in believing that the offense has been committed, it is sufficient.”

Director General v. Kastenbaum, 263 U.S. 25

“Good faith is not enough to constitute probable cause. That faith must be grounded on facts within knowledge which in the judgment of the court would make his faith reasonable.”

But it gets its main definition from The Supreme Court case of…

Draper v U.S. 358 U.S. 307 (1959)

“Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within [the arresting officers’] knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information [are] sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that” an offense has been or is being committed.”

So basically… “Probable Cause” is The doctrine taken from the 4th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that allows a police officer to arrest a person upon the belief that they have committed a crime. It involves any type of direct or circumstantial evidence or facts which leads a police officer to the presumption that a crime has been committed.

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