Q: I was walking down the street and police patted down my jacket for no reason. they found drugs. can they charge me?
I was walking about 100 yards from my car to a liquor store and was stopped and told I needed to put my hands above my head, I did a double take because I didn't know they were talking to me (why would they bc I wasn't doing anything shady) they found some drugs but not a lot.
This is a great question. As a general matter, a person who is walking down the street minding their own business is entitled to Fourth Amendment protection, which protects people from "unreasonable searches and seizures" by the government. What you are describing sounds like a Terry frisk, which is a form of a search, and is only permissible if you are doing something objectively suspicious that would give the officer reason to believe that you are armed and dangerous. The case law says that the suspicion must be supported by "articulable facts" that they are dealing with an individual who is armed and dangerous.
There is an obvious corollary to the “reasonableness” requirement: without a reasonable suspicion that that the person they are dealing with is possibly armed and dangerous, the officer cannot lawfully detain and frisk that person. (Terry says “the proper balance that has to be struck in this type of case leads us to conclude that there must be a narrowly drawn authority to permit a reasonable search for weapons for the protection of the police officer, where he has reason to believe that he is dealing with an armed and dangerous individual”) .
A lot of police officers make the mistake of using Terry stops to investigate perceived crimes that are nonviolent in nature, and unrelated to their safety. If the purpose of the police officer stopping you was simply to see if you had drugs, then no, of course it is not admissible. Without additional threatening or suspicious circumstances, the drugs should not be admissible (unless there was probable cause at the time to believe that you were harboring drugs - but Terry stops do not require probable cause, so they are much more limited in scope).
A decent defense lawyer should be able to determine if the facts of your case merit suppression. Good luck!
A: Police cannot lawfully conduct a stop and pat-down search for no reason. Rather, courts (upon motion by a defense attorney) will require the police officer to "articulate reasonable suspicion of criminal activity" or an observed violation of law, in order the justify a police stop. Definitely discuss this with your lawyer.
Jonathan Matthew Holson agrees with this answer
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