Under California law, police are not supposed to be allowed to “stop and frisk” anyone without a reason. However, the law does not solely dictate the behavior of police in these situations. According to the U.S. Constitution, “stop and frisk” detentions must comply with the following regulatory rules:
- Police may only “stop” you if there is “reasonable suspicion” to believe you are, have been, or will be involved in illegal criminal activity.
- You may only be “frisked” – or patted down – by the police if there is actual reason to believe you are armed and presently dangerous at the moment of being stopped.
Although this law is meant to protect citizens from having their individual rights violated, the rules do not always play out in reality. Too often these days, police act very loosely on the concept of “reasonable suspicion”. As the officer enjoys wide discretion, people are stopped and frisked too frequently without the police adhering to the Constitutional requirements.
Due to this loose definition of “reasonable suspicion,” as well as personal prejudices, a large amount of people are forced to endure a “stop and frisk” search that is not fully legal. Unfortunately, searches that are conducted for what seem to be no legitimate reason often stem from racial profiling.
On the bright side, if you have been charged with a crime as a result of an unlawful or illegitimate “stop and frisk,” any objects or possessions found on your person cannot be used as evidence against you in court. Due to California's search and seizure laws, the “evidence” would not be deemed viable and you can not be charged with the crime if the “stop and frisk” did not comply with California law. It is important to know your rights and defend yourself if you have experienced a “stop and frisk” due to possible racial profiling or disorderly conduct by police.