Operating outside the spirit of the law: How police employ “legal” standards to justify questionable searches and seizures
The Fourth Amendment protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures. Over the years, court precedents have guided determinations of reasonableness and provided a legal structure for police to follow. In two influential decisions, the Supreme Court validated pretextual traffic stops in which the motorist committed a minor traffic violation (Whren v United States, 1996), and established the standard of reasonable suspicion for brief investigatory stops and limited weapon searches (Terry v Ohio, 1968). Using 42 suppression motions filed in a US state, we examine whether and how police apply these legal parameters to case patterns to justify stops, searches and seizures. We find that police use pretexts to justify traffic stops, and often rely on conclusory and laconic descriptions to support determinations of reasonable suspicion. Although often upheld by courts, these applications of the law are contrary to the spirit of the Fourth Amendment.
Esther Nir et al, Operating outside the spirit of the law: How police employ “legal” standards to justify questionable searches and seizures, International Journal of Police Science & Management (24, 3) pp. . Copyright © 2022. DOI: 10.1177/14613557221085499. Users who receive access to an article through a repository are reminded that the article is protected by copyright and reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses. Users may also download and save a local copy of an article accessed in an institutional repository for the user's personal reference. For permission to reuse an article, please follow our Process for Requesting Permission.
|Work Title||Operating outside the spirit of the law: How police employ “legal” standards to justify questionable searches and seizures|
|Subtitle||How police employ “legal” standards to justify questionable searches and seizures|
|License||In Copyright (Rights Reserved)|
|Publication Date||January 1, 2022|
|Publisher Identifier (DOI)||
|Deposited||February 27, 2023|
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