THE 3 TYPES OF POLICE ENCOUNTERS
At some point in your life, you may have an interaction with a police officer; it could be a traffic stop, at a concert or event, or passing an officer while walking down the street. Under the law, there are 3 types of police encounters: mere encounter, investigative detention, and custodial detention/arrest. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects an individual from unreasonable searches and/or seizures. A seizure occurs when the person is detained, meaning the individual is not free to leave without speaking to the officer. This article will explore the 3 types of encounters and what is legally required in each encounter:
1. The first type of encounter with police is known as a mere encounter. Generally, this occurs when a police officer engages in non-coercive conversation with an individual and the individual is free to leave without speaking to the officer. To determine if an interaction is a mere encounter, courts look at factors such as the position of the individual and the officer, the officer’s tone of voice, requests made by the officer during the interaction, and any other relevant factors. Then the court analyzes the totality of the circumstances to determine if a reasonable person would feel that they were free to leave.
2. The second type of encounter with police is known as an investigative detention. This type of encounter allows the officer to conduct a frisk of the individual if the officer believes the individual possesses a weapon or contraband. An officer must have reasonable suspicion in order to initiate an investigative detention. Reasonable suspicion is a reasonable belief based on the totality of the circumstances that a crime is occurring, has occurred, or will occur. If the circumstances do not meet the reasonable suspicion standard and is merely based on a hunch, that would be a violation of the individual’s Fourth Amendment rights. Additionally, a person may only be detained for a reasonable period of time under an investigative detention.
3. The third type of encounter with police is known as a custodial detention or arrest. In order to arrest an individual, the police must have probable cause. Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion, the officer must have actual knowledge that a crime is occurring, has occurred, or will occur. If an officer arrests an individual without probable cause, that would be a violation of the individual’s Fourth Amendment rights.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is not state specific. If you feel your rights have been violated, contact an attorney.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.