This Lawful Pre-Pat Down Search May Have Saved Lives

A lawful investigative detention was not an illegal arrest when an officer expressed his intention to search a detainees pocket and then tried to reach into it [1].

Police noticed the suspect at a university student cafeteria. He appeared unkempt, his eyes were bloodshot and smelled of alcohol. A records check indicated he was not a student, had a prior felony and was known to be armed. Police also noticed a bulge in his pants pocket.

The officer asked if he could retrieve the item and the suspect refused, took off and ran. Officer’s tackled and restrained him which led to the discovery of a loaded handgun and drugs.

The court noted that reaching into the pocket was de facto arrest but believed the officers had probable cause under the stop and frisk doctrine of Terry vs. Ohio[2].

In this case, when weapons are suspected and officers have reasonable suspicion that the defendant is both armed and dangerous, it is a lawful Terry “stop and frisk.”


[1] U.S. vs. Hawkins, 99 Crim Law 585 (8*’ Cir. 2016)

[2] 392 us. 1 (1968)

By | 2018-11-30T21:16:37+00:00 November 14th, 2018|Legal News|Comments Off on This Lawful Pre-Pat Down Search May Have Saved Lives

About the Author:

Dee Wampler
Dee Wampler has practiced law for 50 years has received many awards and honors. As Greene County’s youngest elected Prosecuting Attorney at the age of 29, Wampler’s reputation was quickly established as a leading trial attorney. Dee was an original organizer and first president Crimestoppers. Wampler has published over 250 articles for Law Enforcement Journals, and authored six books: Missouri Criminal Law Handbook; The Trial of Christ; The Myth of Separation Between Church and State; Standing on the Front Line; Defending Yourself Against Cops in Missouri, and other Strange Places; and One Nation Under God. His knowledge of criminal law and trial tactics is widely recognized.