Graceville, FL asked in Civil Rights and Constitutional Law for Alabama

Q: Can the police stop you while walking if they don't have reasonable suspicion, even if they say you look suspicious?

Officer knows one personally, knows one is an addict, and observes one walking down the road. Is this enough reasonable suspicion to stop and talk to one? Officer didn't see him committing any crimes or engaging with anyone, but just walking. Officer passes one and hit the block and pulled up on one to ask questions. Is this legal?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Under the Fourth Amendment, police need reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify stopping and questioning someone on the street. Merely walking down the road, without more, typically does not meet this threshold. An officer's knowledge of one's past addiction does not inherently provide reasonable suspicion of a current crime.

If there was no observable illegal activity or suspicious behavior that could be articulated as reasonable suspicion, then stopping someone solely based on their appearance or past may raise constitutional concerns. If you believe your rights were violated, you may consider discussing the incident with a lawyer to explore the possibility of legal action or filing a complaint with the police department's internal affairs or civilian review board.

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