Reasonable Suspicion

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  • A legal concept that structures and directs police procedure regarding the stopping and frisking of citizens. The standard of reasonable suspicion arose from the 1968 U.S. Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio. In their landmark decision, the Court ruled that if the facts and circumstances of the situation, in their totality, would lead a reasonable person to likely suspect that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed, then indeed the police have “reasonable suspicion” and may stop someone and frisk him or her for weapons. This is considered an objective standard. Reasonable suspicion is not as high a standard as that needed for probable cause and thus allows for less police ingress. For more information, see Terry v. Ohio ((1968).

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