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Reasonable Suspicion

Definition - What does Reasonable Suspicion mean?

Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard of proof used in criminal proceedings in the United States that is used to justify detaining an individual for a short period and frisking them if required.

Reasonable suspicion does not require as much evidence as probable cause. However, it requires circumstances or facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that an individual has, is, or will commit a crime.

Justipedia explains Reasonable Suspicion

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits law enforcement from unreasonable search and seizure. Reasonable suspicion is the standard that provides law enforcement officials with the right to stop, briefly interrogate, and frisk the outer garments of a person if required.

Reasonable suspicion requires more than a hunch, but does not require as much evidence as probable cause. For reasonable suspicion, there must be circumstances or facts that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that an individual has either committed a crime, is committing a crime or will be commit a crime. Law enforcement cannot arrest an individual based on reasonable suspicion. However, if the brief detention leads to the retrieval of facts that provide probable cause that the individual has committed crime, an arrest can be made at that time.

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