Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law

OSJCL Amici Board of Advisors

OSJCL Amici: Views from the Field

Arizona v. Johnson

  • Decided on January 26, 2009.
  • Background: Lemon Johnson was stopped by police for a minor vehicular infraction. At the time of the stop, the police officers had no reason to suspect that any of the car’s passengers were engaging in criminal activity. The officers still asked Johnson to get out of the car and patted him down. During the frisk, officers discovered a firearm and Johnson was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. He argued that the pat-down violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • Holding: The pat-down did not violate the Fourth Amendment because traffic stops of this type are especially dangerous to police officers, and the interest in officer safety outweighs the additional intrusion of requiring the driver to exit the vehicle and submit to a search.



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