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  1. #1
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    pat vs search? what's in my pockets?

    I understand that during a Terry stop, LE can pat frisk outside my clothes to search for hidden weapons. This is often done during traffic stops when the driver is asked to exit the vehicle....

    But what about reaching into my pockets and removing items and placing them on the hood/trunk of the vehicle, which is something I see a lot of on COPS. Can police search inside my pockets and empty the contents? Can they require me to empty my pockets? Would reaching into people's pockets be considered a search vs. the pat-frisk allowed by Terry?

    Of course, if police ask me to empty my pockets, I understand its voluntary. If I refuse to empty my own pockets, would that be illegal? Can I force the police to empty my pockets in order to preserve a 4th amendment challenge to anything found?

  2. #2
    Verbal Sniper Smurfette_76's Avatar
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    The situation, like most we deal with as Officers is not clear cut. If I perform a pat down of the exterior of your clothing for weapons and in doing so feel something that my training and experience tells me is contraband, then I will reach in and take it.

    This job is about articulation and articulation is about an Officers training and experience which is why (oftentimes) it is not possible for Officers in an internet forum to tell you what another Officer can or can't do in real life. The situations are as varied as we are.


    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

  3. #3
    Lather it like its stolen CityCopDC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
    The situation, like most we deal with as Officers is not clear cut. If I perform a pat down of the exterior of your clothing for weapons and in doing so feel something that my training and experience tells me is contraband, then I will reach in and take it.
    If that aint verbatim, I dont know what is. Said it better than I could even think it....

  4. #4
    Verbal Sniper Smurfette_76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CityCopDC View Post
    If that aint verbatim, I dont know what is. Said it better than I could even think it....
    This ain't my first rodeo, darlin'


    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
    The situation, like most we deal with as Officers is not clear cut. If I perform a pat down of the exterior of your clothing for weapons and in doing so feel something that my training and experience tells me is contraband, then I will reach in and take it.
    Well I bet you can feel a crack pipe pretty well, but what about a crack rock? I looked up Minnesota vs. Dickerson here http://www.4lawschool.com/dickerson.htm. Looks like an interesting case.

    OK. Now let's assume you didn't feel anything significant. If you ask me to empty my pockets, can I refuse without running afoul of the law?
    Last edited by RedMan1; 04-22-2008 at 06:02 PM.

  6. #6
    Verbal Sniper Smurfette_76's Avatar
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    That depends. Did I see you do something and I already know I'm going on your pockets; just merely giving you the option of consent? Did you verbally say something to make me suspicious? Do I have a reliable CI that told me you have something?

    Again. EVERY situation is different.


    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
    That depends. Did I see you do something and I already know I'm going on your pockets; just merely giving you the option of consent? Did you verbally say something to make me suspicious? Do I have a reliable CI that told me you have something?

    Again. EVERY situation is different.
    Well, I'm not saying you won't go into my pockets anyway. I am asking that if you make a request that I empty my pockets, and I refuse to empty my pockets myself, can the refusal be it's own charge? I'm not talking physical resistance, I am talking about refusing to empty my pockets myself, but not preventing you from doing it.

    I guess that might seem like a minor point since you may be going into my pockets anyway. But the jist is whether the search of my pockets is voluntary. If I do it myself, it could be considered voluntary. If I refuse and force you to do it, then one could argue the search was not voluntary.

  8. #8
    Forum Member Dinosaur32's Avatar
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    If you are patting down for weapons and cannot articulate a weapon.....how are you going to articulate contraband?

  9. #9
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    I've never seen a law entitled "Refusal to Empty Pockets"

    So no, you aren't going to be charged, unless you actively, physically attempt to keep an officer out of your pockets, then you might get jammed up.

    As Smurfette_76 said though, every situation is different and sometimes when we ask, we already know that we're searching your pockets regardless.

  10. #10
    More cowbell! That Guy's Avatar
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    As far I understand if you can articulate what the item is you can take it. But you can not manipulate the item in order to figure it out. If I don't know I take it out anyway as my life is on the line.

    TGY
    Disclaimer: The writer does not represent any organization, employer, entity or other individual. The views expressed are those only of the writer. In the case of a sarcastic, facetious, nonsensical, stirring-the-pot, controversial or devil's advocate-type post, the views expressed may not even reflect those of the writer [This sig stolen from Brickcop who stole it from Frank Booth].

  11. #11
    Forum Member SgtScott31's Avatar
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    Everything smurfette has posted is on the money.

    If you keep illegal things out of your pockets, then you don't have anything to worry about.
    I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by SgtScott31 View Post
    Everything smurfette has posted is on the money.

    If you keep illegal things out of your pockets, then you don't have anything to worry about.
    keeping police out of my pockets works too.

    j/k

  13. #13
    Forum Member JimSmith's Avatar
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    If you are patting down for weapons and cannot articulate a weapon.....how are you going to articulate contraband?
    By knowing what a crack pipe feels like? Based upon experience and training? I suppose that a crack pipe could also be articulated as a hard object (i.e., could be used as a weapon), but how about a 20 sack? I think I could articulate that. Maybe. I've never tried... But an experienced narc could articulate a lot more than me.

  14. #14
    LE Cheetah nuthead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMan1 View Post
    keeping police out of my pockets works too.

    j/k
    But even that's a game of chance. You have to be lucky 100% of the time. Only takes once to get caught and from there, it goes downhill.

  15. #15
    An Obvious problem mdrdep's Avatar
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    While I may ask to search your pockets, I will never ask you to empty them for me, way to dangerous.
    Today's Quote:


    "Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves."


    Ronald Reagan

  16. #16
    6205 days and a wake-up! ujocka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdrdep View Post
    While I may ask to search your pockets, I will never ask you to empty them for me, way to dangerous.
    +1 - "You" wont be removing anything from your pockets if I am conducting a terry frisk on you.

    Since any hard object can be articulated as a weapon, if it is a hard object it is coming out.
    Bet they got a ticket for obstructing the rear window. God Bless America!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMan1 View Post
    OK. Now let's assume you didn't feel anything significant. If you ask me to empty my pockets, can I refuse without running afoul of the law?
    I don't think that refusing to empty your pockets would be enough to amount to obstruction, assuming the officer in fact had probable cause to conduct a search. But if you resisted when he put his hands in your pockets, then there would be an issue.

    They way I dealt with this issue was to find a probable cause to arrest, make the arrest, and then do a full search incident to arrest.
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

  18. #18
    Bitter Gun Owner Ten-32's Avatar
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    RedMan, another thing to remember is that officers might be more suspicious of objects felt through clothing than the judge sitting in his pajamas looking down on the courtroom from his leather chair.

    Our heightened suspicion might not prevent evidence from being suppressed in court, but it will keep us alive, which is the first priority...
    "Well I'd lock him up for what we know he did, and then throw in a few extra years for what he probably did." ~Hank Hill

    "Why do you need to carry a gun? There aren't any bad people in this town..."

  19. #19
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    First cops is a show. All shows are edited they don't show every second of a stop they just want the good parts.

  20. #20
    Verbal Sniper Smurfette_76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMan1 View Post
    Well, I'm not saying you won't go into my pockets anyway. I am asking that if you make a request that I empty my pockets, and I refuse to empty my pockets myself, can the refusal be it's own charge? I'm not talking physical resistance, I am talking about refusing to empty my pockets myself, but not preventing you from doing it.

    I guess that might seem like a minor point since you may be going into my pockets anyway. But the jist is whether the search of my pockets is voluntary. If I do it myself, it could be considered voluntary. If I refuse and force you to do it, then one could argue the search was not voluntary.

    No. I cannot charge you for refusal to empty your pockets unless it's your hangs you're refusing to take out and then not only am I charging you, but you and I are having a come to Jesus meeting.

    Your second paragraph couldn't BE more wrong. I might ask you for consent to search you because for court purposes, it's a no brainer, but I assure you, if I do a SEARCH, I've got you dead to rights and I've already articulated my reasons. You let ME worry about that part, you concentrate on not carrying contraband around on you and you won't have anything to worry about.

    Lastly, I'd be wary of looking up case law when you don't understand the ins and outs of the Constitution and how it factors in...much less previous case law.


    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

  21. #21
    Forum Member Dinosaur32's Avatar
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    If you are frisking for a weapon that is what you are frisking for. Did you stop the person because you had a reasonable suspicion that he had a crack pipe or loose joints in his pocket?

  22. #22
    Forum Member DaisyCutter's Avatar
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    The "plain feel" doctrine stipulates that if I feel an object that I know is contraband (based on my knowledge and experience) while executing a weapons pat-down, then can remove it, use it as evidence, and said evidence is not subject to the exclusionary rule.

  23. #23
    Verbal Sniper Smurfette_76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dinosaur32 View Post
    If you are frisking for a weapon that is what you are frisking for. Did you stop the person because you had a reasonable suspicion that he had a crack pipe or loose joints in his pocket?

    I believe it's been proven time and time again that where there are drugs you can articulate there are weapons. I assure you that if I frisk the exterior of your clothing for weapon and, through my training and experience, locate what I know or feel to be contraband, I can and will enter the interior of your clothing to remove same.


    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

  24. #24
    Verbal Sniper Smurfette_76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dinosaur32 View Post
    If you are frisking for a weapon that is what you are frisking for. Did you stop the person because you had a reasonable suspicion that he had a crack pipe or loose joints in his pocket?

    If you ask permission to search for X, you are NOT limited if, during that search you find Y. If you have PC to search for Y and find X, then you can still use that.


    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

  25. #25
    Forum Member JimSmith's Avatar
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    If you are frisking for a weapon that is what you are frisking for. Did you stop the person because you had a reasonable suspicion that he had a crack pipe or loose joints in his pocket?
    You may stop a person for believing he has a crack pipe, a detention. However, you may only terry frisk if you have reasonable believe the person is armed and dangerous. There is no such thing as a terry frisk for drugs. However, just like any other action police do legally, if they notice contraband they may seize it.

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