Police Can Only Frisk a Suspect who Appears Dangerous

During a traffic stop, police officers may feel empowered to violate an occupant’s constitutional rights.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Group

United States v Noble is an important case regarding police frisk rules. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decided the case that applies to Michigan, relating to what a police officer can and cannot do regarding frisking a suspect during a traffic stop. In Nobel, local police were asked by a Drug Enforcement Administration task force to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation. Local police received information that a car was linked to a DEA investigation. This case will impact the national frisk rules and guidelines.

A Violation of Police Frisk Rules?

The police stopped the car based solely on its alleged connection to a DEA investigation, and the officer noticed that the passenger, Ms. Noble, was nervous. The driver gave consent to search the car, and the police officer removed the driver and Ms. Nobel from the vehicle. Next, the officer searched both of them for weapons. The officer found drugs and a handgun on Ms. Nobel. Ms. Nobel was convicted, and the trial judge denied her challenge to the search based on violating police frisk rules.

Attorney - Michigan - Awards

Reversed on Appeal – Illegal Search and Seizure

The Court of Appeals ruled that most traffic stops are a minor inconvenience for motorists but dangerous to police officers. Police officers may order occupants out of the car without violating the Fourth Amendment. However, they cannot frisk a suspect unless they have reasonable suspicion to believe a particular person is armed and dangerous. Reasonable suspicion means there must be specific and articulable facts supporting the suspicion. In other words, the rules for police frisks do not permit unlimited authority to frisk members of the public for weapons.

In the Nobel case, the police officer testified that he felt the frisk was necessary for officer safety because of Nobel’s nervousness and the vehicle under suspicion in a DEA investigation. Also, he said that he learned in police training that most suspects are armed. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court. The fact that the defendant was nervous was inconsequential. The Court stated that many people are nervous when dealing with the police; nothing is suspicious about that alone. The appellate court found that many judges disregard this fundamental truth in ruling. The Court found no evidence of a lack of cooperation or an escalation of the defendant’s nervousness. Additionally, the Court said that a car’s connection to a drug trafficking investigation does not automatically give the police the right to stop the vehicle or frisk the occupants. There must be a specific and articulable reason to believe a particular person is armed and dangerous before a frisk is allowable.

The Court reminded police officers that there is no general officer safety exception to the search warrant requirement. A traffic stop can occur based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Once stopped, an officer needs additional reasonable suspicion that the person is armed and dangerous before a frisk is constitutional.

Why is LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. your best defense if you’ve been wrongfully frisked or searched by the police?

In Michigan, the line between a lawful police search and a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights can sometimes blur, leading to wrongful frisks and searches. Securing a seasoned defense team is critical if you find yourself in such a situation. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., with its formidable reputation as a premier Michigan criminal defense firm, stands as your staunchest ally, ensuring your rights are vehemently protected. Here’s why our firm is your best defense against unlawful police searches and frisks:

  • Unparalleled Legal Expertise: Our attorneys have expertise in Fourth Amendment issues, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. This expertise is crucial for challenging evidence obtained through wrongful police conduct, ensuring that your defense is robust and legally sound.
  • Proven Track Record: LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has a history of successfully defending clients subjected to illegal searches and frisks. Our track record speaks to our ability to navigate complex legal challenges, often resulting in the suppression of unlawfully obtained evidence and, consequently, the dismissal of charges.
  • Aggressive Advocacy: We believe in aggressive representation for our clients. Our firm does not hesitate to challenge law enforcement procedures or prosecutorial overreach, including violations of police frisk rules. We’re committed to holding the authorities accountable for any infringement of your constitutional rights.
  • Personalized Defense Strategies: Recognizing that each case is unique, we tailor our defense strategies to the specific circumstances of your situation. Whether it’s a stop-and-frisk on the street or a search of your vehicle or property, we meticulously analyze every detail to build the most compelling defense possible.
  • A Team Approach: At LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., you benefit from a collaborative team of attorneys who pool their knowledge, experience, and resources to defend your case. This collective approach ensures that no stone is left unturned in your defense.
  • Reputation for Excellence: Our firm’s reputation as a leader in Michigan criminal defense precedes us in the courtroom. Known for our integrity, dedication, and legal acumen, we command respect from judges and prosecutors, which can be a significant advantage in your case.

Facing the aftermath of an illegal frisk or search can feel overwhelming, but with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., you’re not alone. Our commitment to upholding your rights, combined with our legal expertise and aggressive advocacy, makes us the optimal choice for anyone seeking justice in the face of wrongful police conduct. If you’ve been subjected to an unlawful search or frisk, partnering with our firm ensures that you have a powerful defender on your side, fighting to protect your freedom and future.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney – Criminal Lawyers with vast expertise in Defending and Fighting for Clients

The good and affordable attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are recognized as vastly experienced in all areas of criminal defense, including police frisk rules. In state and federal courts, we represent people charged with crimes all over Michigan. Our attorneys are aggressive and zealously represent our clients’ interests against some of the toughest prosecutors in Michigan. When your freedom is at risk, it is essential that you have attorneys who are willing to fight to protect your rights fearlessly – that would be the attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

Contact Us - Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys