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Illinois Stop and Frisk Laws

Updated on
April 24, 2020
Article written by
Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we discuss Illinois stop and frisk laws. Our Illinois criminal law lawyers address:

  • What is stop and frisk?
  • Is stop and frisk legal in Illinois?
  • What is reasonable suspicion for a stop and frisk in Illinois?
  • What makes a stop and frisk illegal in Illinois?
  • Proper response to a stop and frisk in Illinois

What is Stop and Frisk?

Stop and frisk is a brief stop by law enforcement where a suspect is stopped, asked to identify themselves, and potentially patted down for a weapon. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens by requiring police to have reasonable suspicion that a suspect may be involved in a past, present, or future crime before a stop and frisk can be initiated.

Is Stop and Frisk Legal in Illinois?

Yes. The police do not need special permission or a warrant to conduct stop and frisk procedures in Illinois, if they are motivated by reasonable suspicion. Charges that result from a stop and frisk performed without merit may be dismissed.

What is Reasonable Suspicion for a Stop and Frisk in Illinois?

A stop and frisk may only be initiated if there is a reasonable presumption that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed by the suspect. For example, if police come across a pedestrian matching a specific description of a recent bank robber, they likely have reasonable suspicion to stop and frisk the individual. The same can be said if the police notice someone dropping a suspicious object or running in the opposite direction after noticing their presence in a public area. In most cases, a pedestrian simply walking down the street would not stir up enough reasonable suspicion to warrant a stop and frisk.

What Makes a Stop and Frisk Illegal in Illinois?

There are a few situations that could deem a stop and frisk Illegal in Illinois, including the following:

  • A stop and frisk conducted without reasonable suspicion
  • An overly intrusive pat down
  • A drawn out stop and frisk


Stop and frisks can only be conducted with reasonable suspicion of a past, present, or future crime. Pat downs should only be conducted to quickly eliminate the threat of a weapon (though drugs or other contraband found while searching for a weapon can be seized) and if there is no probable cause for an arrest, a suspect must be released.

Proper Response to a Stop and Frisk in Illinois

If you are stopped and frisked by an Illinois police officer, resisting is often the most damaging response. Remember, a stop and frisk does not always lead to an arrest. Instead, keep the following tips in mind:

  • If you don’t want to speak, simply say “I would like to remain silent”
  • Should you choose to speak, know that everything you say can be used against you
  • You have the right to ask if you are under arrest or if you are free to leave
  • Stay calm; think clearly before speaking, moving, or reacting
  • Do not argue with or touch a police officer during a stop and frisk (even if you’re innocent)
  • If a stop and frisk results in your arrest, always ask for your lawyer immediately

Illinois Stop and Frisk Laws
Author

Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

Kevin O’Flaherty is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He has experience in litigation, estate planning, bankruptcy, real estate, and comprehensive business representation.

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