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Reasonable suspicion: How it can help your appeal case

On Behalf of | Oct 1, 2022 | Federal Appeals

Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard of proof used in criminal cases. It is the justification that a police officer needs to make an investigative search, seizure, or stop. For instance, a police officer will need more than just a hunch or guess to stop you. 

Through the Fourth amendment, you are free from any search, seizure, or stop, unless the police officer reasonably suspects you are involved in criminal activity.

Using reasonable suspicion to strengthen your appeal case

Any stop based on a hunch or guess is unconstitutional and a total violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Therefore, when you get stopped, or a police officer carries out an investigatory search without reasonable suspicion, you are entitled to file a motion to suppress any evidence the officer obtained as a result of the stop or search.

If the court agrees to dismiss the material evidence presented by the police officer, the case could get dismissed for having insufficient evidence to demonstrate its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This means you might get acquitted of all the charges against you.

Things that constitute reasonable suspicion

To determine whether a police officer had reasonable suspicion to stop you, a court of law will consider not just one factor but the totality of the circumstances. The following are factors a court will consider to determine whether or not an officer had reasonable suspicion to stop you.

  • There must be more than a hunch that criminal activity took place. If the prosecution fails to prove this, the stop is unlawful.
  • Whether or not the officer who stopped you relied on another officer’s observation to stop you. 
  • Suppose no conduct suggested criminal behavior, for example, running or driving in high-crime areas. In that case, any stop is unlawful if the police officer fails to give more reasons that your behavior is suggestive of prior criminal activity.

You can tell whether your stop was legal or not in an appeal

Reasonable suspicion is pivotal in many criminal cases. So ensure you seek legal assistance when you feel your stop was a violation of your rights.