Fourth Amendment and Stop and Frisk
In a recent S.C. Supreme Court opinion, the court had to determine whether a stop and frisk violated the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights against an unlawful search and seizure. The brief facts: law enforcement received a tip that two males were transporting drugs via the "Chinese bus line" similar to the Greyhound. Two law enforcement agents were waiting at the bus stop and saw the two males carrying luggage. The agents approached the males and began asking them questions. The defendant placed his hands in his waist band and the agent asked him multiple times to keep his hands visible. The agent then conducted a Terry frisk pat down of the defendant and discovered drugs, which led to a search of the luggage where more drugs were found. Because this is a very fact specific case, read the entire facts here. By giving a brief summation of the facts, I omitted many important and key facts for a "totality of the circumstances" review.
The first issue was whether or not a seizure occurred when the agents approached the defendant and began questioning him. The supreme court held that under the totality of the circumstances, this was not a seizure. But rather, this was a consensual encounter:
Based on the totality of the circumstances, the court held that the stop was consensual.
The next question the court had to address was whether or not the frisk was legal:
The court held that under the totality of the circumstances, the search was reasonable as a Terry Frisk.