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Reasonable suspicion

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Definition Edit

Reasonable suspicion arises

[w]hen information exists that establishes sufficient facts to give a trained law enforcement or criminal investigative agency officer, investigator, or employee a basis to believe that there is a reasonable possibility that an individual or organization is involved in a definable criminal activity or enterprise.[1]

Overview Edit

It is the basis for an investigatory or ''Terry'' stop by the police and requires less evidence than probable cause — the legal requirement for arrests and warrants.

Reasonable suspicion is evaluated using the "reasonable person" or "reasonable officer" standard, in which such person in the same circumstances could reasonably believe a person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity; such suspicion is not a mere hunch. Police may also, based solely on reasonable suspicion of a threat to safety, frisk a suspect for weapons, but not for contraband like drugs.

A combination of particular facts, even if each is individually innocuous, can form the basis of reasonable suspicion.

References Edit

  1. U.S. Department of Justice, Minimum Criminal Intelligence Training Standards for Law Enforcement and Other Criminal Justice Agencies in the United States 44-45 (Ver. 2) (Oct. 2007) (full-text).


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