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Terryvs. Ohio refers to a resolution that was arrived at by the SupremeCourt of Ohio, which held that it was not a violation of rights for apolice officer to carries out seizures and searches on a suspect.This permitted police action is sometimes referred as &quotTerryfrisk&quot or &quotstop and frisk.&quot The reason behind thecourt`s ruling on the matter revolves around understanding thelimitations of the exclusionary rule, which protected citizensagainst unreasonable frisking by the police with the aim of gatheringevidence of the suspected crime. In this regard, Terry vs. Ohio wasupheld for other purposes such as crime prevention and personalprotection by the police officers.

TheHistory of the Case

Thehistory of this case revolves way back on the 31st of October 1968,when Detective Martin McFadden of Cleveland Police Department waspatrolling and came across two men, identified as Richard Chilton andJohn W. Terry standing on the corner of the street in a manner thatraised suspicion. The two were walking back and forth along the sameroute, and each time they were pausing to have a glimpse inside astore window. After they have had a glimpse of the store, they wouldgo back to the corner and have a conversation. This went on for morethan five times, prompting the detective who was in plain clothes tofollow them, who later observed the two being joined by another manby the name Katz, some meters away from the store (Gordon,2016).

Uponapproaching the three and introducing himself as a detective, theofficer realized that the individuals were acting in a suspiciousmanner. He went ahead and frisked Terry, and in the process, he notedthat there was a gun in his pockets, but he could not reach it. Thepolice officer ordered the three to get into the store, where heconducted a search and realized that there were revolvers in thepockets of Chilton and Terry. He then decided to take Terry andChilton to the police station, where they were charged withpossession of weapons without a valid permit.

Thecase facts

Thelawyers of Terry and Chilton maintained that it was a violation ofthe Fourth Amendment rule when the detective forcefully grabbed andsearched the two. However, the court denied the submission of thelegal team as well as the motion to conceal it arguing that the gunswere not seized during the search. The court instead cited theweapons as an indication that the detective was forced to believethat the two suspects were up to something fishy and that theirinterrogation was justified. It further reiterated that the detectivehad the right, for his protection and those of others, to frisk themif he was convinced to believe that the two were armed (White,Fradella, Morrow, &amp Mellom, 2016).

TheCase Results

TheSupreme Court had the task of determining situations where a persongets forcefully seized and searched in an objective of implementingthe Fourth Amendment to the constitution of the United States fully.The court noted that the searched conducted to Terry and Chilton wasa serious breach of privacy. It judicial entity stated that theofficer failed to consider the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.Contrary, Sweeten(2016) arguesthat the Warrant Clause does not apply to police practice, especiallyin matters related to the aforementioned case. The Central inquirywas the reason behind all circumstances of such governmental actionof intruding citizen`s privacy (Maclin,2014).Nevertheless, the court stated that the officer had an interest thatwas legitimate in assuring that the two suspects were not possessingany form of danger to the general public. Therefore, as a policeofficer, it would be unreasonable of him to take unnecessary risks inthe dispensation of his duties. Besides, the court observed that thepolice activity was reasonable, in that he thought Terry and Chiltonmight have been armed, thus posing a threat to his safety. Thesuspects were found guilty, and later the intermediate appellatecourt asserted the judgment.


Whenthe principles of this case are applied in the future, it will beprudent to first consider the extent and nature of the interests ofthe government in any case. One of the major benefits of this case isthat it aids the police and relevant bodies in detecting andpreventing crime. It is in this interest that a police officer mayapproach a person so as to investigate possiblecriminal activities.However, the approach adopted by the police should ensure that theprivacy of the suspect is not contravened in any manner. It was thislegitimate function of investigation that the officer was exercisingwhen he chose to approach the suspects. He noticed them going througha series of actions, which forced him to conduct furtherinvestigations.

Instancesof search and seizure are likely to increase in the future. When anofficer is convinced that an individual, whose characters exhibitacts of suspicion, he should start by investigating the person atclose range. If he finds out that the individual in question isarmed, and his actions may cause harm not only to the officer butalso the general public, it would be unreasonable for the police tobe denied the chance to take necessary actions to reduce the threat.Police have the responsibility of protecting the citizens, andtherefore any actions that are seen to disrupt peace should bemitigated in advance (Meares,2014).Nevertheless, personal privacy should be upheld and accepted. Also,the quality and nature of intrusion by a police officer should stillbe considered.


Thecase of Terry vs. Ohio has been applied in a myriad of occurrences.For instance, the ruling is believed to have opened doors for thetraffic police officers to conduct stops and car searches. The act oftraffic police getting vehicles out of the road just to getjustification for issues like overlapping and exceeding the requiredspeed limit are considered as applications of the case (Sweeten,2016).Another incident of Stop and Frisk case has also been observed insituations where a police officer sifts through a passenger`sunderarm with an objective of locating any weapons that can endangera trip. If a weapon is discovered in the process, the officer isempowered to confiscate the tool.


Thecase of Terry and Ohio can be described as an example of situationswhere, in as much as certain laws are made clear, for instance, theright to privacy, there are situations where these laws are no longerconsidered applicable. It is the role of the police to safeguard thecitizens, and if there are any actions that are likely to pose adanger, such freedoms tend to be ignored, since the safety of thecitizens is the ultimate goal. It is, therefore, importantone to note that there are situations where the rightto freedom no longer holdsvalid.


Gordon,B. R. (2016). Time to petition legislation for change in TexasStatute Penal Code 38.02 Failure to Identify.

Maclin,T. (2014). Maryland v King: Terry v Ohio Redux. TheSupreme Court Review,2013(1),359-404.

Meares,T. L. (2014). The law and social science of stop and frisk. Annualreview of law and social science,10,335-352.

Sweeten,G. (2016). What Works, What Doesn`t, What`s Constitutional.Criminology&amp Public Policy,15(1),67-73.

White,M. D., Fradella, H. F., Morrow, W. J., &amp Mellom, D. (2016).Federal Civil Litigation as an Instrument of Police Reform: A NaturalExperiment Exploring the Effects of the Floyd Ruling onStop-and-Frisk Activities in New York City.