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August 26, 2011

Illegal to Pat Someone Down without Reasonable Suspicion

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a trial court ruling last month relating to a pat down search of a Defendant outside a bar that led to the Defendant’s charge for possession of a Schedule II controlled substance. The trial court had concluded that the officer’s search under the circumstances was justified since a domestic dispute was in progress and the situation was volatile and after the search was upheld the defendant was found guilty of the charge. The court of criminal appeals overturned the trial court, holding that the police officer lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct the pat down search since the officer failed to establish that the defendant was likely to be armed and dangerous.
The holding in State v. Samir Ramon Mejia makes it clear that police officers are only allowed to perform a pat down search when they have reasonable suspicion that the person may be armed and dangerous and cannot just routinely perform these types of searches. If you are charged with a criminal offense in Nashville or the Middle Tennessee area and believe you were subjected to an illegal search, you should contact a criminal defense attorney. You may reach Vince Wyatt or David Raybin at 615.256.6666.