Terry v. Ohio Case Brief Example

The following case brief for Terry v. Ohio (1968) provides a concise and structured summary of the court case that serves as a valuable reference tool for law students and legal professionals. It allows them to review and analyze legal principles, identify key issues and holdings, and gain insight into the court’s reasoning. By presenting cases in a structured manner, case briefs facilitate effective studying, research, and the application of legal principles to new legal scenarios. Whether used for exam preparation, legal research, or enhancing understanding of judicial decisions, case briefs are invaluable resources that contribute to a deeper comprehension of the law.

Case: Terry v. Ohio

Court:Supreme Court of the United States
Citation:392 U.S. 1 (1968)
Petitioner:John W. Terry
Respondent:State of Ohio

Procedural History: Terry v. Ohio (1968)

  • The case originated in the Ohio state courts. John W. Terry was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon after the trial court denied his motion to suppress the evidence obtained during a stop and frisk by police officers.
  • Terry appealed the conviction, arguing that the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights.
  • The Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, and Terry sought review from the United States Supreme Court.

Facts: Terry v. Ohio

While on a downtown beat in Cleveland, Ohio, Detective McFadden observed three men, including John W. Terry and Richard Chilton, repeatedly walking back and forth in front of a store window. Suspecting that they were “casing the joint” for a potential robbery, Detective McFadden approached the men and asked their names.

The men mumbled a response, raising McFadden’s suspicion further. Concerned for his safety, McFadden performed a “pat-down” search of Terry and discovered a concealed weapon. Terry and Chilton were subsequently charged with carrying concealed weapons, and Terry challenged the search as a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

Issue: Terry v. Ohio (1968)

The primary issue before the court was whether the search conducted by Detective McFadden was a violation of Terry’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Rule of Law: Terry v. Ohio

The court considered the constitutionality of the search under the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Holding and Reasoning: Terry v. Ohio (1968)

The Supreme Court held that the search conducted by Detective McFadden was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

Holding: The Court, by an 8-1 decision, held the following:

  • Reasonable Suspicion: The Court recognized the concept of “reasonable suspicion” as a lower standard than probable cause, allowing law enforcement officers to conduct brief stops and limited searches when they have specific and articulable facts giving rise to suspicion of criminal activity. It held that under the circumstances, Detective McFadden had reasonable suspicion to believe that Terry and his companions were involved in criminal activity, justifying a limited search for weapons.
  • Stop and Frisk: The Court established the “stop and frisk” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, allowing law enforcement officers to perform a limited search for weapons if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is armed and dangerous. It held that such searches serve the legitimate interest of protecting the safety of the officer and the public.
  • Scope of the Search: The Court clarified that the “pat-down” search permitted in Terry situations is limited to a frisk for weapons and does not extend to a full-scale search for evidence of a crime.

Concurrence and Dissent: Terry v. Ohio

Justice Douglas filed a dissenting opinion, expressing his disagreement with the majority’s interpretation of the Fourth Amendment. He argued that the search conducted by Detective McFadden was a violation of Terry’s constitutional rights.

Significance: Terry v. Ohio (1968)

Terry v. Ohio is a significant case that established the “stop and frisk” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. The decision recognized that law enforcement officers can perform limited searches for weapons when they have reasonable suspicion that a person is armed and dangerous.

This ruling has had a substantial impact on police practices and the balance between individual rights and public safety. The case continues to be cited in legal discussions regarding the scope of law enforcement authority to conduct searches and seizures based on reasonable suspicion.

Milo Lawson

Milo Lawson is a passionate legal professional and a valued contributor to Case Brief Examples. With a deep understanding of the law and a keen eye for detail, Milo brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our platform.

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