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When are the police legally allowed to search me?

Video Transcription

Police can search you if you are arrested. It’s called a search incident to arrest. They don’t have to just pat you down but they will do a much more intrusive search. They’ll have you empty your pockets and they’ll check your entire body. If you’re not arrested, the police can do what’s called a Terry versus Ohio outer garment pat down for weapons only. Many years ago, the United States Supreme Court in a case called Terry versus Ohio said that when police are talking to an individual, if they can articulate grounds for suspicion, they can do an outer garment pat down to make sure that you don’t have a weapon that can be used against them.

That does not mean the police can tell you to empty your pockets or that they can look in your socks or look in your shoes. No, it’s an outer garment pat down like this. Any search that’s more intrusive than that is almost always illegal unless an arrest is made legitimately with probable cause. If you’re the subject of an illegal search and seizure, you needed to be represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can represent you properly.


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