If you're wondering whether police can stop you and search you without a warrant, you should. You do have rights, but they come from a murky area of the law. In this brief video, South Carolina criminal defense attorney Rob Usry describes the basis for police stops and searches without a warrant.


Here's an important question we get sometimes: “When can police stop and search me without a warrant?” Well before I get to the answer, a little lesson on where your rights come from. The United States constitution’s Fourth Amendment protects you against unreasonable stops and seizures by the government. If officers violate it, a judge can throw the evidence that they get from the stop and seizure out, which can get your case dismissed.

Now on to the answer to your question which can be as clear as mud. The Constitution requires officers to have a justifiable reason to stop or search you. It’s called reasonable suspicion. Those two little words are a legal moving target, there's no real clear definition of it but here's the best we can do without legalese. Reasonable suspicion requires officers to be able to point out specific, unbiased facts and conclusions drawn from those facts that give them a legitimate reason to suspect you're involved in criminal activity or you've got a weapon on you. They don't have to be certain about it, but it's got to be more than a lucky guess.

When a judge evaluates whether officers have reasonable suspicion the judge looks at the whole picture and sometimes two cases with the same set of facts yield two different results. So what do you do about all this? Well, for you the stakes are high the law was complicated and it may be your only way out because convincing a judge or prosecutor the officers had no reasonable suspicion to stop or search you may be the difference for you between prison or dismissal or at least getting a reduction in your charge that you can live with. You need an experienced legal technician who can help you with this complex murky area of the law to get you the best results you can under the circumstances.

If you've got questions about being stopped and searched call us to get the ball rolling. I thank you for thinking about this with me and I hope I see you soon

Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a workers' compensation attorney.