Suppose that a police officer stops a person who "looks funny"...?

The person acts strangely, so the police officer decides to frisk him. The officer feels a bulge in the suspect's coat pocket, which turns out to be a bag of cocaine. Would the arrest for cocaine possesion hold up in court? Why or why not?

5 Answers

  • 3 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Looking funny is not illegal, so the Fourth Amendment still applies. The officer was permitted a protective pat down under Terry v. Ohio on a suspicious person, but not a complete search. At this point, he is looking for weapons only. The common name for this is a "Terry Stop".

    During a protective pat down, if the officer comes across an item other than a weapon, he must testify as to why he knew this item was something illegal.

    This is going to depend on how well the officer can articulate the bulge, and why he felt it was illegal. Most importantly, the court will be interested if the cocaine was found in a place that could hold a weapon, which was the reason for the pat down in the first place.

  • Bruce
    Lv 7
    3 years ago

    The officer would probably be authorized to do a protective pat down for weapons (Terry v. Ohio, commonly called a "Terry Stop").

    If the officer can articulate through his training and experience that the bulge is consistent with illegal drugs, the search will be allowed under the Plain View Doctrine. This originally covered illegal items in plain sight of the officer, but the Court has expanded it to include "plain smell" (for example the person reeks of marijuana) and "plain feel", when the officer feels something illegal during a pat down.

    Source(s): 24 years law enforcement
  • 3 years ago

    it depends on probable cause and when stopped the police are allowed to search to make sure the person is not armed.

  • 3 years ago

    probably not.

    on the other hand, if the subject "looked stoned" and wasn't walking straight, the search would probably hold up in court.

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  • 3 years ago

    No, because a terry frisk is a check of the outer clothing for anything that feels like a weapon. The only way it holds up is if a consensual search is involved, something is in plain view or if there is a search incident to arrest because a weapon is found or another arrestable offense occurs.

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