Stop And Frisk Searches By Police Officers – United States v Noble Explained
On August 8, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals in the 6th Circuit, in United States v Noble, explained the limits and constraints place on an officer when he chooses to perform a Terry Stop and frisk searches on individuals. The Court explained that only in situations where the officer performing stop and frisk searches are able to reasonable articule suspicion of the individual concealing or carrying a dangerous weapon can the officer legally and consitutionally perform a Terry Stop and frisk on an individual.
The facts involved in the Noble case presented a scenario where local police were requested, by the DEA, to perform a traffic stop on a particular vehicle. The defendant was sitting in the passenger seat at the time of the traffic stop, and after the driver consented to the search of the vehicle both driver and defendant-passenger exited the vehicle. Prior to the search, one of the officers noticed the defendant seemed nervous and upon exiting the vehicle determined it was proper to perform a frisk of the defendant in order to ensure the officer’s safety. During the frisk search the officer located several baggies of narcotics, narcotic paraphernalia, and a hand-gun. The defendant was subsequently arrested and eventually came-forth the matter to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Court in Noble explained that Police Officer must remember that there is no general safety rule or exception to the warrant requirement, even when stop and frisk searches are performed. An Officer may rely on his or her own personal experience and training when determining whether there is reasonably articulable suspicion that an individual may be concealing or carrying a dangerous weapon. Even more, the assumption that individual’s involved in drug-trafficing or smuggling are or could be possessing a dangerous weapon is very real; however, in order to perform legal stop and frisk searches of an individual in such a situation, as the one involved in this case, some corroboration must be made linking the individual to be frisk searched to the activity of drug-dealing or trafficing.
Therefore, the Court in Noble went on to conclude and explain that the individual defendant in that particular case was searched illegally. There were no facts indicating that the defendant was involved in drug-dealing, and whats more even the driver was not positively identified as the individual the DEA had been watching. This case reiterates long-standing case precedent involving Terry Stop and Frisk searches. It is so essnetial to know the law, maintain your rights, and lawyer-up whenever you are facing a criminal charge (misdemeanor or felony).
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