Black’s Law Dictionary defines reasonable suspicion as a particularized and objective basis, supported by specific and articulable facts, for suspecting a person of criminal activity. In laymen terms, reasonable suspicion can be created by characteristics of a location a person is found, the hour of the day, the actions witnessed, flight of a person, third party tipsters, and a cop’s experience and intuition. Generally, one factor like the ones listed above will not be enough to create reasonable suspicion. For example, a tip from a person by itself is generally not enough to create a level of reasonable suspicion.
In South Carolina an officer of the law can briefly detain one if that officer has reasonable suspicion to conclude that criminal activity is occurring. Reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause. Reasonable suspicion can be created through articulable facts such as timing, a person’s behavior, an objective manifestation of criminal activity, or a totality of all the circumstances.
If an officer has reasonable suspicion and his initial stop does not rid him of fear for himself or others he has the right to do a terry frisk. A terry frisk is a pat down limited to one’s outer clothing for the purpose of discovering weapons. If a weapon is discovered during a lawful terry frisk it will be admitted into evidence.
If you believe an officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop you there is a possibility you are right. The facts or each case are highly relevant and will be material to the Court when it decides whether evidence should be allowed or suppressed.
Alex Kornfeld is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Greenville, SC. If you, or someone you know has been arrested, or is under suspicion of a crime, it may be in your best interest to consult with an attorney first. You may reach Atty. Kornfeld at his office 864-335-9990
Sources: Black’s Law Dictionary; State v. Taylor, 694 S.E.2d 60, 388 S.C. 101(S.C. App. 2010)