In a recent post on police encounters, we discussed the different classifications of encounters with police ranging from a “mere encounter” to “custodial interrogation.” The class of encounter known as a terry stop has a long history of constitutional jurisprudence on both the state and federal levels. Due to its brief and fleeting nature, and the potential for severe repercussions, it is important that you know your rights regarding a terry stop before the situation occurs.
A terry stop, also known as a noncustodial investigatory detention, is an encounter with police not sufficiently coercive to be considered an arrest. In order to be stopped as part of a terry stop, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that the person being questioned is involved in some form of criminal activity. Probable cause is not necessary to perform a terry stop, it only requires reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion requires more than a mere hunch. Taken objectively, to sustain the reasonable suspicion necessary to perform a terry stop, facts must be available to the officer that would justify a man of reasonable caution in the belief that the action taken was appropriate. Factors to be considered are tips and information, suspicious activity such as flight from the scene, and other suspicious activities.
A terry stop may last as long as necessary to confirm or dispel an officer’s suspicion. However, without any confirming evidence that there is indeed a crime in progress, it is important to know that you are free to leave at any time. If there is no warrant or probable cause, a police officer may not legally detain you. If the officer detains you beyond the point necessary to confirm or dispel his suspicion, this can lead to a change in the classification of the encounter. What started out as a simple terry stop may become an illegal seizure of your person. Evidence and admissions seized when you are illegally detained, without a reading of your miranda warnings may be held to be inadmissible at trial. However, knowing exactly what is constitutional and what isn’t is a thin line defined by years of constitutional jurisprudence.
If you were held against your will, or had evidence seized from a seemingly innocuous encounter and used to charge you with a crime, the road forward will be full of nuance and constitutional interpretation. Attorney Frank Walker has years of experience helping Allegheny County residents navigate this road. Attorney Walker been successful having evidence seized in violation of the Constitution suppressed, and many cases ultimately dismissed. Call our office at 412-532-6805 to learn what your rights are in a criminal proceeding today!
Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer andPersonal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia. Attorney Walker is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense and qualified as aPennsylvania Death Penalty Defense Attorney.
If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident in WV orPA, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805 24 hours a day, 7 days a weekfor aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.
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