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Can a police officer stop you and frisk you for drugs?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Drug Charges |

A police officer can stop you while you are walking or jogging on the street, but to frisk you is another question. They may ask you questions when they stop you. You should know that you can remain silent and politely refuse to respond because they can be trying to find a reason to search you.

The Fourth Amendment and Nebraska laws guarantee your freedom against unreasonable searches and seizures, meaning a law enforcement officer cannot search you unless they have probable cause or reasonable suspicion. But what exactly does that mean?

Understanding probable cause and reasonable suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is not a product of a search. It should justify the search. A reasonable suspicion implies that any other law enforcement officer would have the same suspicion under similar circumstances. You can refuse to consent to a search and ask the officer why they want to frisk you in the first place. If they cannot provide you with a sensible, logical and fair answer, then they should not search you unless they have a warrant. They need probable cause to obtain a warrant.

Probable cause is more than just a hunch or intuition, but only the court can decide if an officer indeed had or has probable cause to search you. A probable cause should be objective and observable. An officer can say you smelled like marijuana, so they frisked you. If they find drugs on your person, they can arrest you. The officer would have to be able to substantiate the search with details and facts. It is more than suspicion. The officer should have actual knowledge that you have drugs in your possession.

The significance of probable cause and reasonable suspicion

Racial profiling and unreasonable searches and seizures are becoming too prevalent in criminal cases. A law enforcement officer should not be able to search anyone based on bias or prejudice as it violates an individual’s civil and constitutional rights. If an officer obtains evidence from you without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, then the evidence may be inadmissible in court.