Is it Legal to Stop and Frisk in Texas?

Before we discuss the legality of stop and frisk in Texas, it’s important to understand what stop and frisk actually means.

A frisk occurs when a police officer pats down an individual’s outer clothing in search of a weapon.

To get to this point, of course, the officer must suspect the individual of having committed a crime, whether minor or serious.

However, believing that someone has committed a criminal offense and having reasonable suspicion are two entirely different situations.

What is Reasonable Suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion is not a hunch.

In order to stop you for the purpose of investigating a crime, police must have reasonable suspicion.

If you drive through a red light, for example, or you’re caught crouching beneath a neighbor’s bedroom window, police can likely show reasonable suspicion.

A Texas criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you have been charged with any type of criminal offense.

It is important to note that reasonable suspicion of a crime does not automatically give police the authority to begin frisking you.

In order to pat down your physical person, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are carrying a weapon.

This “open palm” pat down is not a full search, and finding a weapon is not justification for performing a frisk without reasonable suspicion.

If police cannot show that reasonable suspicion existed before the frisk, any resulting evidence may be invalidated.

Although safety of the officer is the primary reason for conducting a frisk, simply “fearing” the individual is not a justifiable reason to initiate a frisk.

Probable suspicion would have to be something much more concrete.

For example, if the handle of a gun is sticking out of the individual’s waistband or the officer can see the outline of a knife through the individual’s clothing, this could constitute probable suspicion.

What Are My Rights During a Stop and Frisk?

If you have been detained for a stop and frisk, you have the right to remain silent.

In addition, you have the right to refuse a search if the officer does not have a warrant. Further, if you are only being detained and are not placed under arrest, you have the right to leave.

If, however, you are being placed under arrest, you have the right to legal counsel.

Invoke your rights in a calm and respectful manner.

Arguing with police officers rarely leads to a favorable outcome. An experienced Texas stop and frisk attorney can help you determine how to proceed if your rights were violated during a stop and frisk or arrest.

Failure to Identify

A stop and frisk does not necessarily result in an arrest.

At this point you are still just being detained. So, what kind of information are you required to give to the officer(s)?

Do I Have to Show My ID or Give My Name?

Unless you are placed under arrest, there is no requirement to identify yourself.

As such, in most stop and frisk situations, you are not required to give your name or ID.

However, lying about your identity is another story altogether.

While it is ok to refuse to give your name, giving a false name or other identifying information is an offense called Failure to Identify.

If you are placed under arrest, however, you must give your name, address, and date of birth.

Refusing to give any of this information, or giving false information, will likely result in a Failure to Identify charge.

Contact the Law Office of Andrew J. Williams Today

If your rights have been violated during a stop and frisk in Texas, the skilled legal team at the Law Office of Andrew J. Williams can help.

We understand the vast grey area surrounding stop and frisk in Texas, and we have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced, or dropped entirely.

Contact the Law Office of Andrew J. Williams today at 281-358-9111 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

Andrew Williams, an experienced attorney who can challenge evidence in a DWI case
About the Author: Andrew Williams
I am a criminal defense lawyer with over 20 years experience defending people accused of wrongdoing. I am board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Only ten percent of attorneys in Texas are board certified in their respective field. I practice criminal law exclusively in both state and federal court including appeals of criminal cases.