Stop and Frisk Rights in Arizona

If you are like most people, you know the basics about your rights when approached by police and frisked. However, you might not know everything you should in the context of your rights when such a pat down occurs. Let’s take a quick look at exactly what should be on your mind in such a situation.

Frisks are Legal to a Certain Extent

Frisking or being patted down is an uncomfortable situation. However, you do not lose your rights when such an event occurs. Frisking is nowhere near as intrusive as a comprehensive body search. This physical search is conducted to ensure you are not carrying a gun, a knife or another weapon that might harm the police officer. Police frisking is constitutional in certain situations in spite of the fact that the United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment provides protection against unlawful search and seizure.

Federal and State (Arizona V. Serna, 2014) hold that police frisking is constitutional if a two-prong test is met. Police are legally permitted to frisk an individual if there is reasonable suspicion he or she is involved in criminal activity and believe the individual is armed and dangerous.

Your Rights When Being Patted Down

According to the Arizona Supreme Court, there are specific factors that create reasonable suspicion on behalf of police who proceed to frisk a suspect. The court determined police have no justification for frisking an individual simply because that person was encountered in an area with an elevated level of crime. The court holds that if reasonable suspicion exists, it has to be based on the suspect’s individual actions as opposed to another party’s actions unless the conduct of the defendant has raised reasonable suspicion.

The bottom line is if you are stopped by police in Arizona, you should know it is unlawful for them to subject you to a frisk due to your surroundings or due to factors related to another individual. Furthermore, you have the right to remain silent. Simply state you are invoking your right to remain silent and want to speak to your attorney. Your attorney will meet with you to review the nuanced details of the case, provide legal advice and shape a legal strategy on your behalf.

What About Evidence Obtained During an Illegal Frisk?

If it is determined police obtained evidence when frisking or searching you in an unlawful manner, your criminal defense attorney will move to suppress that evidence. If the court agrees that the material evidence in question should be suppressed, the prosecution will not be able to use it to prove your alleged guilt, ultimately leading to the charges being dismissed. However, this is only one of the legal defense strategies implemented to challenge a criminal charge. Your criminal defense attorney will tailor a legal strategy to the nuanced facts of your case.

Contrary to what many think, some police frisks are illegal and completely unjustified. However, the sad truth is some police officers do not have as accurate of a moral compass as claimed. There is a chance an overzealous police officer will stop and frisk you at some point in the future. If such an event occurs, remain calm, do not admit any guilt even if you are guilty and state you are remaining silent but would will discuss the matter with your attorney. If it turns out the police frisk is illegal, any evidence obtained during the frisking will not be permissible in a court of law. Heed your attorney’s advice every step of the way toward justice and you will eventually put this unfortunate situation behind you.