Getting Frisked in Arizona and Knowing Your Rights
Does the police have the right to frisk you at any given time? What are your rights in such a situation and can you turn down a frisk? These are important questions and you need to know what your rights are in the case of a police stop and getting frisked in Arizona.
What is a Frisk?
Before moving on to the other specifics, let’s define what a police frisk actually is.
Also known as a pat-down, a frisk is a search carried out by a law enforcement professional. A pat-down is not a full body search and it isn’t as intrusive. The aim of the frisk is to make sure that a suspect isn’t carrying a weapon and that they’re not dangerous.
Usually, a frisk is quick to complete. A police officer will pat the suspect’s outer clothing in an attempt to identify the shape of a weapon underneath.
Arizona Regulations: When can a Frisk Occur?
The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution protects individuals against unlawful searches and seizures. A police officer can’t just stop you on the street and perform a pat-down. A certain procedure will have to be followed:
- Law enforcement professionals need to have reasonable suspicion that the suspect was engaged in criminal activities
- Police officers need to have reasonable belief that the suspect is dangerous and armed
If these conditions are not met, the frisk will be illegal. Reasonable suspicion is based on facts and observations. It can’t be just an instinct or a hunch.
Police officers will analyze a situation to determine if a stop is justified. They will first need to determine if the suspect looks out of place and time. They may also work on finding out whether the person matches the description on someone who’s wanted. People who act strangely, those engaging in furtive movements, individuals who are present at a crime scene and those who are attempting to run away at the approach of policemen could be approached and questioned.
A few additional conditions will have to be present for a frisk to take place. These include:
- Law enforcement professionals feeling threatened or experiencing a safety concern
- A suspicion about a weapon being carried by the suspect
- A police officer is alone without backup
- The suspect acts in a menacing way and exhibits uncontrolled emotions
- The suspect provides evasive answers to the questions being asked
- There is more than one suspect
- The officer suspects that the individual is about to use a weapon to commit a crime
Someone’s presence in a high-crime area and the time of the day do not provide reasons for a stop and a pat-down to take place. These factors in combination with some of the conditions mentioned above, however, could contribute to a justified frisk.
As already mentioned, the US Constitution protects your rights. Whenever a stop and seizure occurs, your criminal defense attorney will examine the specifics of the situation to determine whether law enforcement professionals have acted in accordance with established procedures.
Keep in mind that the mere presence of a weapon in the absence of wrongdoing or suspicious behavior does not warrant a pat-down.
In the case of interacting with an armed person, an officer may ask for the weapon to be removed during the encounter. If the suspect does not provide consent, a police officer will need to have a reason enough to feel threatened and to carry out a frisk. Otherwise, they will be violating the suspect’s constitutional rights.
Stop and frisk is an effective tool that ensures the safety of law enforcement professionals. Often, however, police officers abuse their authority and carry out illegal frisks. If you have been subjected to getting frisked in Arizona, you have the right to challenge it. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know how to handle the situation.