In spite of efforts to thoroughly define procedures for detaining criminal suspects, the law actually provides police with a certain amount of leeway during the course of executing their duties. Although everyone is innocent until proven guilty, police often apply the somewhat vague standard of reasonable suspicion to a situation when attempting to investigate the possibility of criminal activity.
How and When Reasonable Suspicion Is Applied
The concept of reasonable suspicion was first established by the United States Supreme Court in 1968. It allows police to stop and briefly detain a person if, based on the officer’s training, they believe that person may be engaged in criminal activity. However, while reasonable suspicion is intended to permit law enforcement the opportunity to slow or stop action in a situation so they can gather information and determine whether or not an illegal act occurred, its application can create controversy.
Recently, Las Vegas Police detained a high-profile professional athlete while investigating a report of an active shooter in a hotel and casino nightclub. Upon arriving on the scene, police reported frantic activity in the area, and they applied the standard of reasonable suspicion when they said the man in question fled the scene and allegedly attempted to elude them. The athlete subsequently claimed police used excessive force and racial profiling in detaining him, despite his claims of innocence. Hundreds of video recordings of the incident are under review as authorities attempt to settle the matter.
Everyday Application of Reasonable Suspicion
Not every police use of reasonable suspicion involves a high-profile individual or occurs in front of hundreds of video cameras. During an encounter with the police, such as a routine traffic stop, it can be helpful to understand your rights :
- Police may not randomly stop and pat down an individual. However, if they have reasonable suspicion that a crime may have occurred, they can pat you down as a safety measure.
- You do not have to consent to a police search of your vehicle based on reasonable suspicion.
If You Have Questions, Ask a Will County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are detained by police, the best option is to speak with an attorney who understands the process for holding and questioning suspects and witnesses. Do not take chances. Retain a knowledgeable Illinois criminal defense attorney to ensure that your rights are preserved. The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. provides meticulous review of your case and uses the necessary resources available to help you respond to police questioning or answer charges in court. Contact our offices at 815-740-4025 to schedule a meeting.