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Can cops stop and frisk you based on a 911 call alone?

Seattle, WA |
Filed under: Criminal defense

My boyfriend and I were stopped in front of a friend's apartment gate because cops claimed someone called 911 saying we were trying to break in when we were simply standing there waiting to get buzzed in. The cops frisked us and found drug paraphernalia and arrested my boyfriend... did they have the right to stop us in the first place?

Attorney Answers 2


Maybe. Under the Aguillar-Spinelli test the officer must either establish that the informant's tip is sufficiently reliable or obtain independent information that confirms the tip. This is an oversimplification of a fairly complicated analysis the court applies to decide if your rights were violated. You need to get an attorney that understands search and seizure law as you may have some good defenses.

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There are many reasons an officer can frisk you, including officer safety. Even if the officer had a reason to frisk you, he cannot just seize anything he feels like. This is especially true in drug paraphernalia cases as it is very difficult for an officer to be believed if he claims that he immediately knew the object he felt was contraband. Given that your boyfriend is now charged, his attorney will get the police report and see exactly what the officer believed he knew when he stopped you (i.e. the content of the 911 dispatch) and also will be able to see exactly how he claims he came up with the paraphernalia. There are many ways this case may come out favorably for your boyfriend.

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