Illinois residents may know they have certain fundamental rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States of America, but what exactly those rights encompass may be a little hazy. Among the various guarantees is the protection against unreasonable search and seizure by police officers, as provided for in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. This means that there must be some reason that a person is detained and searched by law enforcement officials.
The concept of terry stop is a seizure within the scope of the Fourth Amendment. Another name for a stop and frisk, it allows police officers to briefly stop and detain an individual for a pat down search of outer clothing if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is armed, engaged or about to become engaged in criminal conduct. Many then wonder if this extends to stop and frisks in a traffic setting, and the answer is yes. This investigation can take place if the police have stopped an automobile and its occupants while looking into a vehicular violation. In these circumstances, they do not need to believe that any of the occupants of the vehicle were involved in any form of criminal activity.
Though a terry stop may be legal, it doesn’t allow police officers to detain individuals indefinitely or go on lengthy searches. What it does allow is a brief detention and a pat down of outer clothing, pointing toward discovering something obviously discoverable. Therefore, if some illegal substances, such as drugs, are discovered during a search and seizure, it is important to know where the evidence is obtained from and whether it would be allowed into trial.
Drug crimes carry with them severe penalties and accusations of them should be taken seriously. One of the ways those accused of committing those crimes can protect themselves is by challenging various aspects of the case, including the very search that may have led to the discovery of illegal substances.