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Burlington County, NJ Law Blog

Monday, October 31, 2016

Stop and Frisk in New Jersey

If you watch the news or follow politics at all, you are probably familiar with the term “stop and frisk.” Stop and frisk is a popular, yet controversial, police tactic used all over the country. It is a hot topic in the news and during the current election season because many believe that it is often used as a method of racial profiling and is therefore vocative of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure and the Fourteenth Amendment right that provides equal protection of law.

What is stop and frisk?

Stop and frisk is a police tactic that enables an officer to stop an individual and question him or her with a low level of suspicion that a crime has been or is about to be committed. If the officer then has reasonable suspicion that the person has a weapon or is dangerous to the officer in any other way, the officer may pat the person down over his or her clothes, or frisk him or her, as it is commonly called. If after the frisk the officer then has a higher level of suspicion, called probable cause, that the person has or is about to commit a crime, the officer may conduct a more extensive search of the person. Stop and frisk was found to be acceptable in a 1968 United States Supreme Court case originating in Ohio. 

Stop and frisk has recently been ruled as unconstitutional in the State of New York. But is still in use across the country, including in New Jersey. Being stopped and frisked is usually not a pleasant experience and can make you feel like you have been targeted for all the wrong reasons. In some cases this may be true.

Because the tactic is so controversial the Newark Police Department and other departments in the United States report their stop and frisk data in order to curb its use for unconstitutional purposes.  If you believe you have been unconstitutionally stopped and frisked and are now facing criminal charges, you do have rights.  Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case today.


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