In Massachusetts, a person may lawfully be stopped by police and frisked of the officer has reasonable suspicion that a person has committed a crime, is committing a crime or is about to commit a crime and the officer has a reasonable belief the person is armed and dangerous.

It is not uncommon for criminal charges to arise as a result of a pat-frisk based on the officers’ belief of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.  The fact that evidence of illegality was discovered after the frisk, does not justify the frisk.  A skilled Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer will examine the timing of what was known to the officer at what time.

So what does reasonable suspicion mean?  There are literally hundreds if not thousands of cases that have interpreted the meaning of reasonable suspicion in Massachusetts.  The common component to the analysis in all of these cases was what ‘specific, articulable’ facts were known to the police to conclude a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity?  The officers’ “hunch” that criminal activity was afoot is not sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion.

However, just because reasonable suspicion is established, that fact alone does not justify a pat-frisk of the person.  While in many cases police believe this justifies the pat-frisk, reasonable suspicion alone does not justify the frisk.  To proceed to a frisk the officer must either have a fear for his safety or the safety of another or a reasonable belief the person is armed and dangerous.

The justification for a pat-frisk may occur simultaneously.  When challenging the pat-frisk that produced the evidence against your client, a skilled Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney will examine the officers’ observations and knowledge.  What specific facts did they know?  What was the moment the defendant was Constitutionally seized?  What facts justified escalating the encounter to a pat-frisk?  As is true of all cases, the facts of each case differ.  When a defendant moves to suppress evidence in Massachusetts the timing and sequence of events is critical to resolving the issue of suppression.


Boston, MA Criminal Defense Attorney Jeff Miller has successfully represented clients who have been charged with a crime as a result of an unlawful pat-frisk.  CLICK HERE to read about some of the criminal cases that Attorney Miller has successfully suppressed evidence on behalf of his client.  If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Massachusetts, contact Jeff Miller at 617-482-5799 to schedule a confidential appointment.