Arizona Supreme Court Rules Police Cannot Search Someone For Simply Being Near A Crime

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 7:45am
Updated: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 9:25pm

Arizona law enforcement does not have the right to search someone simply because they're in or near a suspicious area or situation.

Tuesday’s ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court reinforced guidelines for similar situations.

When Phoenix police arrested Anthony B. Primous on suspicion of carrying two grams of marijuana, the state Supreme Court ruled they acted illegally.

That decision was based primarily on what Primous was doing and not where he was standing. In court, the judges noted he had a baby on his lap and was cooperative.

Nevertheless, officers patted down Primous and two other men. They were standing with a fourth man who had run off as police approached them outside a Phoenix apartment in what the court agreed was a “dangerous neighborhood.”  Officers said they were in the area looking for an alleged arms dealer.

Officers found no weapons on the remaining men, but did find the bag of marijuana on Primous, which led to his conviction.

The high court overturned that conviction because that search was unprovoked and violated his Fourth Amendment right prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure.

The justices agreed while the neighborhood was considered a high-crime area, that in itself, is not justification for police to automatically search a citizen.

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