Reasonable suspicion is a term used to describe if a person has been or will be involved in a crime based on specific facts and circumstances. It may be used to justify an investigatory stop. Reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch that a crime has committed but does not require as much evidence as probable cause.
To evaluate reasonable suspicion, the court must decide if a reasonable person or reasonable officer would also infer that a person is involved in a crime were the circumstances the same.
The Supreme Court ruled in Terry V. Ohio that an individual may be stopped and frisked by law enforcement agents based on reasonable suspicion. The court found that this type of detainment (referred to as a Terry Stop) does not violate the Fourth Amendment, which restricts unreasonable search and seizure.
A person may not be arrested based on reasonable suspicion – an arrest is made based on probable cause. However, if probable cause develops during an investigatory stop, the officer may arrest the suspect.
When would an investigatory stop for reasonable suspicion be appropriate?