In many instance, law enforcement professionals must use their best judgment to govern their actions and behavior. Reasonable suspicion is a standard of proof that regulates certain behavior in the field of law enforcement. Reasonable suspicion refers to the reasonable belief that an individual has been involved in a criminal offense, or is going to take part in such activities. If a law enforcement agent has reasonable suspicion regarding an individual, he/she is permitted to detain that individual for a short period of time.
During the time that the individual is detained, officials will likely try to obtain probable cause, which will allow them to arrest the individual and acquire search warrants. If a law enforcement agent has reason to believe that an individual is carrying a concealed weapon, the officer has the right to search for these weapons, based on reasonable suspicion.
Though reasonable suspicion is grounds for short term detainment, it does not warrant arrest. Therefore, unless law enforcement officials have probable cause, an individual cannot be arrested. Reasonable suspicion is also not grounds for initiating a criminal case. In order for a criminal case to be initiated, suitable evidence regarding an individual’s criminal behavior must be acquired.
If law enforcements agents do not have suitable evidence, but detain an individual for an extended period of time, the officers are in violation of the individual’s rights. It is important to note that an officer is not permitted to search, or frisk, an individual for drug or similar contraband. An officer can only employ this behavior if he/she has reasonable suspicion that an individual is carrying a weapon.