If police stop and frisk you, the most important thing to remember is that you have rights. Stay calm and remember them — they’re important. This guide explains.
What Should You Do if Police Stop and Frisk You?
If police officers stop you for questioning and pat you down to see if you’re carrying any weapons, you’re part of what’s called a “stop and frisk.” it’s important to know that these types of stops are legal, but that the police do have to operate within certain limits.
In fact, the police can’t just stop and frisk anyone they’d like. Although they don’t need probable cause to stop you on the street, they must at least have a reasonable suspicion of some type of criminal activity. And another thing: police can’t frisk you unless you give them permission or they have a reasonable belief that you may be armed and dangerous.
Related: 7 things you should never do when police stop you
One other important thing to note is that if the police find anything illegal on you when they stop and frisk you, it can usually be used against you in court. For example, if the police pat you down looking for weapons but find methamphetamine instead, they can use it to charge you with possession.
First things first: It’s typically not a good idea to give police permission to frisk you, even if you don’t have any weapons or anything illegal on your person. But if they pat you down anyway, you can (and probably should) say in a calm and respectful voice, “I do not consent to this search.”
With that said, here’s how to handle the situation:
- Tell the police, calmly and respectfully, that you do not consent to the search.
- Allow them to pat you down, and move your arms and legs in the ways they tell you to.
- Do not resist police at all when they’re patting you down (or at any other time).
- Keep calm and don’t raise your voice.
- After the police finish frisking you, ask if you’re free to leave. If they say you are, leave. Don’t run; simply walk away calmly. Don’t say anything – not even under your breath – as you leave. (Keep it in until you get to where you were heading!)
Related: What happens after you get a holiday DUI?
What if Police Violate Your Rights?
If the police violate your rights during a stop and frisk, such as by reaching into your pockets or rifling through your handbag without your consent and without probable cause, sadly, the best you can do is let it happen. You cannot fight police injustice on the street.
- Write down the officers name and badge number.
- Write down the officers patrol car number.
- Get contact information for any witnesses.
- Take photos of any injuries you may have.
- Get copies of any medical records related to any injuries you sustained.
- If the police arrest you, don’t answer any questions. Instead, tell them that you want to speak to an attorney.
Related: What happens after you get a traffic citation in Illinois?
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney?
If you’ve been accused of a crime, we may be able to help you – and don’t worry: It’s completely confidential. Call us at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below to schedule your free, private consultation with an experienced and skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney now.
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