The Stop and Frisk in Illinois: Your Questions Answered
Calling in your Springfield IL criminal defense attorneys isn’t an usual move after you’ve been stopped and frisked by police in Illinois. If this has happened to you, here’s what you need to know about the practice and your rights.
The curious case of “reasonable suspicion”
By law, the police are supposed to have what is known as “reasonable” suspicion to stop you on the street and search you. Who defines exactly what reasonable suspicion is, and how do police officers decide who is suspicious-looking enough to warrant a stop and who is not? It’s the discretionary interpretation of reasonable suspicion that makes the legality of stopping and frisking a person who isn’t visibly taking part in a crime a contention point in many cases.
It is legal for Illinois police to stop you when you’re on the street and ask where you’re heading, what you’re doing, and if you have identification on you that they can see. In 2016, the state passed a law that requires that police issue anyone they stop but don’t arrest a “contact card.” This card will contain information about you and why they stopped you, as reported by the Rockford Register Star. A contact card will also include your race and gender, the police officer’s name and badge number, and the date, time and location of the stop.
The contact card law was passed to help stop the distrust and resentment of police officers that can occur in a community when they engage in stop and frisks without genuine reasons for doing so. As reported by the New York Times, Chicago stop and frisk practices brought the state into the national limelight on this issue.
A study conducted by the A.C.L.U. of Illinois found that there were more than 250,000 stop and frisks in Chicago that didn’t result in arrests from May through August of 2014. In those instances, more than three-fourths of those stopped and searched were African Americans, even though they only make up about one-third of the city’s population.
What to do if you’re stopped and frisked
Generally speaking, you should answer an officer’s questions and cooperate if you’re stopped by a police officer in Illinois. Since it’s legal for them to do so if they have reasonable suspicion, resisting can land you in more trouble – even if there was no real reason for the stop in the first place. However, do consider the situation before you comply, and always remember the following points:
- Anything you do say can and probably will be used against you in court.
- You can simply say you would like to remain silent, as speaking is not required.
- You may ask if you’re free to leave or under arrest.
- Remain calm and in control of your body language and words.
- Don’t start an argument with police officers.
- Never touch a police officer.
- Don’t resist, even if you’re completely innocent.
- Ask for Springfield IL criminal defense attorneys immediately if you’re arrested.