If I’m a minor, can I be searched and patted down by police officers for any reason?

When can a minor be searched and patted down by police:

The police need specific facts to justify their suspicion that a minor is armed and dangerous before they conduct a pat-down or search of the minor.

Case law, including the case of In Re H.H., says the police are permitted to conduct a limited, protective pat-down for weapons if the officer has “reason to believe that he is dealing with an armed and dangerous individual, regardless of whether he has probable cause to arrest the individual for a crime.” The officer does not need to be certain that the person is armed, but rather a judge will look to see whether an average person in the same situation would be justified in the belief that his safety or that of the safety of another was in danger.

The police cannot conduct this search in order to discover evidence of crime, but it does allow the officer to pursue his investigation without fear of violence. If the minor being searched refuses a pat-down or search by the officer, the officer may not use that refusal as a basis for his or her suspicion. Further, the officer cannot conduct a pat-down based on the facts that the suspect does not have identification on him or appears nervous or sweating. Additionally, other circumstances are considered such as the type of crime the stop was based on (infraction versus a more serious crime), the time of day/night or location the stop takes place, or the way the suspect is dressed. These factors do not suggest someone is carrying a weapon. The officer has to reasonably believe that there is a possibility that a weapon may be used against him.

Because evidence gathered in many searches carried out by police officers may not be used against you, depending on the conditions of your arrest, it is imperative that you seek out a qualified attorney to represent you and fight for your rights. Michael S. Carrillo will assess the conditions surrounding your arrest and work hard for you to make sure that your personal privacy and Constitutional rights are not violated. Give him a call immediately at (626)799-9375 for a free consultation.

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November 3, 2009