If you’ve been arrested or stopped by police, you may be wondering whether your rights were violated. An officer cannot stop you on a hunch or by random. He or she needs probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. A police officer doesn’t always require probable cause to stop you or a car in which you are a passenger or driver.
What is Reasonable Suspicion?
Whether an individual who is a target of a law enforcement stop has been stopped on the street or in a vehicle, the result is the same: he or she has been deprived of freedom of movement. Stopping a vehicle and detaining its occupants, constitutes a “seizure” that triggers Fourth Amendment protections. Even though an officer lacks probable cause to make an arrest, “certain investigative stops, prompted by an officer’s suspicion that the occupants have committed a crime, may in certain circumstances be constitutionally permissible.” Officers can infringe on a person’s interest to be free of a stop and detention when “they have a suspicion grounded in specific, articulable facts and reasonable inferences from those facts, that the individual has committed a crime.” Id.
Police officers can stop and briefly detain a person for investigative purposes if the officer has a reasonable suspicion supported by articulable facts that criminal activity “may be afoot,” even if the officer lacks probable cause. The officer, of course, must be able to articulate something more than an “inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or ‘hunch.’”
A police officer must reasonably suspect, in light of his or her experience, that some criminal activity is taking place before stopping someone. The focus on an investigatory stop is reasonableness, and a determination of reasonableness is based on the totality of the circumstances. The determination of reasonableness is guided by a common sense test that asks whether the facts known to the officer would lead an objectively reasonable officer to suspect that a crime has occurred or is about to occur.
How ELO can help you with Reasonable Suspicion:
If you have been arrested, call Eisenberg Law Offices at (608) 256-8356 for your free initial consultation. You should consult our experienced criminal defense attorneys to represent you if you are arrested based upon reasonable suspicion.
A police officer cannot arrest an individual based upon reasonable suspicion alone. Reasonable suspicion justifies a stop, investigation and temporary detention to determine if a crime has or is being committed. A stop based upon reasonable suspicion can lead to an arrest based upon probable cause. These are important distinctions.
An experienced criminal defense attorney at Eisenberg Law Offices can examine your case and determine whether your stop or arrest was in violation of the United States Constitution. For a free consultation, call us today at (608) 256-8356.