Can you be arrested running from police?

Dale Savage Charleston Criminal Lawyer

The answer is No, well at least you shouldn’t if you are going to follow and apply the law.  If all the information that police have is an unprovoked flight then you cannot be arrested for running from police, but you will most likely be pursued and stopped for further investigation.

Can you ignore the police?

Yes.  Under the law, a person is free to ignore the police and does not have to talk to them in a police-citizen encounter on the street, without more.  See, State v. Williams, 351 S.C. 591, 571 S.E.2d 703 (Ct. App. 2002).  The refusal of a person to cooperate with or talk to an officer, without more, doesn’t furnish the minimal level of objective justification needed for an investigative detention or seizure.

An individual has the right to ignore police and go about his business when an officer without reasonable suspicion attempts to stop him. Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 103 S. Ct. 1319 (1983).

When can police stop you?

An officer may conduct an investigative stop – a Terry stop – if he has a reasonable suspicion that a crime has recently been committed, is in the process of being committed, or is about to be committed.  Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S. Ct 1868 (1968); State v. Brannon, supra; State v. Pichardo, 367 S.C. 84, 623 S.E.2d 840 (Ct. App. 2005); State v. Williams, 351 S.C. 591, 571 S.E.2d 703 (Ct. App. 2002).

Reasonable Suspicion:

  1. Must be based on specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion, see, e.g., Terry v. Ohio, supra;
  2. Must be something more than an inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or hunch, seee.g., Id.;
  3. Is founded upon the specific reasonable inferences the officer is entitled to draw from the facts in light of his experience, see, e.g., Id.;
  4. Requires a particularized and objective basis that would lead one to suspect another of criminal activity, see, e.g., United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 101 S. Ct. 690 (1981); State v. Balssingame, 338 S.C. 240, 525 S.E.2d 535 (Ct. App. 1999); and
  5. The whole picture must be considered. United States v. Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 109 S. Ct. 1581 (1989).

High crime area

A person’s presence in a high crime area alone does not support reasonable suspicion to justify a Terry stop. Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47, 99 S. Ct. 2637 (1979).  However, the police are not required to ignore relevant characteristics (e.g., high crime area or nervous, evasive behavior) in determining whether there is sufficient suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop. United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 95 S. Ct. 2574 (1975).

Unprovoked flight

Unprovoked flight is simply not a mere refusal to cooperate.  Flight, rather, is the opposite of going about one’s business, and the police can stop a person who flees while being questioned during a police-citizen encounter in order to investigate further. Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119, 120 S. Ct. 673 (2000).

What can police do during an investigative stop?

During an investigative stop, an officer may conduct a protective search of a person provided the officer has individualized, reasonable articulable suspicion that the person stopped might be armed.  See Minnesota v. Dickerson, 508 U.S. 366, 113 S. Ct. 2130 (1993); Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85, 100 S. Ct. 338 (1979).  Because the sole justification of a protective search/frisk/pat-down is the protection of the law enforcement officer and others nearby, it must limited in scope to an intrusion reasonably designed to discover weapons that might be used to harm the officer or others nearby. Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 103 S. Ct. 3469 (1983); Ybarra v. Illinois, supra; Terry v. Ohio.

Armed and Dangerous

In determining whether a person is “armed and dangerous,” the officer need not be absolutely certain that the person is armed.  The issue is whether a reasonably prudent man in the circumstances would be warranted in the belief that his safety or that of others was in danger, based on specific and articulable facts, taken together with rational inferences from those facts.

Charleston Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have an investigative stop issue in your case call an experienced and trusted Charleston criminal defense lawyer at the Dale Savage Law Firm today for a free case consultation (843) 530-7813.

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