Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, John W. Terry (the “Petitioner”), was stopped and searched by an officer after the officer observed the Petitioner seemingly casing a store for a potential robbery. The officer approached the Petitioner for questioning and decided to search him first.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. An officer may perform a search for weapons without a warrant, even without probable cause, when the officer reasonably believes that the person may be armed and dangerous.
Facts. The officer noticed the Petitioner talking with another individual on a street corner while repeatedly walking up and down the same street. The men would periodically peer into a store window and then talk some more. The men also spoke to a third man whom they eventually followed up the street. The officer believed that the Petitioner and the other men were “casing” a store for a potential robbery. The officer decided to approach the men for questioning, and given the nature of the behavior the officer decided to perform a quick search of the men before questioning. A quick frisking of the Petitioner produced a concealed weapon and the Petitioner was charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
Issue. Whether a search for weapons without probable cause for arrest is an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution (”Constitution”)?