Can California police "stop and frisk" me for no reason?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Oct 01, 2014 | 0 Comments

The answer--under the law--is most definitely no.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the following rules apply to "stop and frisk" detentions in California:

First, police may only "stop" you if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that you have been or will be involved in criminal activity.

Second, police may only "frisk" you (pat you down) if they have reason to think you are armed and presently dangerous.

This is what the law says. But in reality, police can play fast and loose with the "reasonable suspicion" requirement.

As a result, many people deal with "stop-and-frisk" searches that feel as if they are being done for no reason--or for an illegitimate reason such as racial profiling.

The good news is that, if you are charged with a crime because of a "stop-and-frisk" that did not comply with California law, then anything the police find on you cannot be used as evidence to charge you with a crime under California's search & seizure laws.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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