In this hypothetical situation, the police officer did not contravene the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Since Officer Smith was on routine patrol, he did not require probable cause to start engaging the stranger in a conversation (Shwegel, 2007; Roberson, Wallace and Stuckey, 2007). Officer Smith did what is procedural that any police officer can do. He parked his patrol car, headed straight on foot in the direction of Mr. Radley, and inquired from him if he could ask him some questions. Surprisingly, the stranger agrees. If he could have not said yes, then the detective could have been obliged to stop engaging him in any further conversation. However, since he agreed, the action of the officer to talk to him is justifiable. From the scenario, it is evident that the suspect was not detained of his free will and he was at liberty to leave the conversation at any time, which he comfortably did approximately five minutes later.
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As Mr. Radley walked into the grocery store, the officer glanced at his pick-up truck. Under the plain view law, this action is justifiable (Bergman and Berman, 2009, p.54). Mr. Radley is not privileged to privacy concerning the passenger compartment of his pick-up track since nothing that is set out in plain view is subject to confidentiality. Furthermore, using a flashlight does not contravene this since the officer only used it to aid his vision. The items that the officer saw sticking out under the front seat of the pick-up made him be suspicious of the vehicle he had never seen before in Hickory Falls. This made him have reasonable suspicion that the stranger in town might have been involved in a criminal act. Burglars usually use the items the officer discovered to break into houses. Furthermore, the items were hidden in the vehicle. Why does a glasscutter or a carpenter hide his tools of trade? A person who does legal business is not ashamed as Mr. Radley was about his equipment. Because of these reasons, the actions of the officer to check if the stranger had any active warrants and to make inquiries with the dispatcher are justified. The officer was simply involved in pro-active policing that has been shown to be able to reduce the crime rate (Paynich and Hill, 2010, p.199).
As the newcomer in town gets into his vehicle and speedily drives off, Officer Smith closely trails him. This action by the officer is also perfectly legal since he was aware that he was about to run him. Therefore, if Mr. Radley could have been implicated in a criminal act, he could have easily handed him over to the authorities. As the chase continued, the officer got vital information from the dispatcher about recent crimes in the neighborhood where a glass cutter had been employed in making way for the criminals. At this moment, the detective has probable cause to order the suspect to halt the pick-up and detain him or in other words make a “Terry Stop” (Lippman, 2010, p.125).
When Mr. Radley came out of the vehicle, he was agitated, swore at the detective and waved his arms around. Therefore, for the protection of the officer and the suspect, the officer carried out a pat-down search, handcuffed him, and advised him against leaving until things were cleared. After a probable cause has been established, it is lawful to prevent a suspect from leaving until all the suspicion has been cleared. However, as much as it is for investigative purposes, the detention should be done within a reasonable amount of time. In this scenario, ten minutes is a reasonable amount of time since it is the duration the homeowner took to get to the scene of the incident. Once the suspect was found innocent, he was released at once. In this hypothetical situation, the actions of Officer Smith were legal.
Bergman P., & Berman, S. J. (2009). The criminal law handbook: know your rights, survive the system. Berkeley, Calif. : Nolo Publishing.
Lippman, M. R. (2010). Criminal procedure. Los Angeles: Sage Publication.
Paynich, R., & Hill, B. (2010). Fundamentals of crime mapping. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Roberson, C., Wallace, H., & Stuckey, G. (2007). Procedures in the Justice System (8th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Schwegel, T. (2007). Probable cause. New York: St. Martin’s Paperbacks.