On October 8, 2013, Newport News police arrested a man for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon. Police say they detained 24-year-old Phillip Lee Morris of Hampton at about 4:00 p.m. Mr. Morris was in a vehicle near the corner of 25th and Buxton, and police noticed what they believed to be drugs in the car. Officers discovered the gun in Mr. Morris’ waistband during a search, and there is no indication of any drug charges.
Generally speaking, to comply with the Fourth Amendment, officers must have probable cause before conducting a search. York County defense attorneys can ask the court to exclude evidence obtained if the search is not specific: if the officers suspect there are drugs on the premises, they may only search for and seize drugs. In Mr. Morris’ case, there is no indication that the police had any reason to believe that Mr. Morris was armed and, therefore, under the Fourth Amendment, the officers had no right to search Mr. Morris for weapons.
More than likely, the officers found the gun during a Terry stop. The 1968 United States Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio gave officers the right to conduct a pat-down search for weapons, even though the officers have no probable cause to suspect weapons, out of a concern for the officers’ safety. Later, in Adams v. Williams, the Court expanded on the Terry stop doctrine: “A brief stop of a suspicious individual, in order to determine his identity or to maintain the status quo momentarily while obtaining more information, may be most reasonable in light of the facts known to the officer at the time.”
Whether you are charged with a minor offense or a major offense, the attorneys at The Hunter Law Firm can provide effective representation in court.