Terry v. Ohio: Case Brief & Summary

Instructor: Joseph Jones
In this lesson, we will review the United States Supreme Court decision of Terry v. Ohio, including the details of the case and the Supreme Court's decision. There will be brief quiz at the end to test your knowledge.

Terry v. Ohio

Say you are a newly hired police recruit and eager to do a good job. While on patrol, you see two men standing in the front of a store peeking through the window. You believe that they may be planning on robbing the store.

When the men see you, they start walking down the street. You are curious as to what they were doing so you stop them and ask. The men tell you that they have recently been released from prison and that they are just getting to know the neighborhood again.

You decide to pat the men down and detect what feels like a handgun in one of their waist bands. You recover the gun and place the man into custody for possession of a weapon.

Did you just violate the man's constitutional right of an unreasonable search and seizure? According to Terry v. Ohio, you were well within your rights to stop and frisk the individuals and recover the weapon.

Case Details

Terry v. Ohio is a 1968 United States Supreme Court decision that held that it is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment (protection against unreasonable search and seizure) when a police officer stops a person on the street and frisks him if the police officer has a reasonable belief that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, and he has reasonable belief that the person may be armed.

In October 1963, a Cleveland Ohio police officer observed John W. Terry and Richard Chilton pacing back and forth in front of a store looking inside. After watching the men do this about twelve times, the officer thought they may be 'casing' the store for a robbery. The men were joined by a third man, Katz, who spoke to them for a minute and left. The men then began to walk down the block and the police officer followed them.

He saw that the men rejoined Katz and approached them to ask what their names were. The men didn't respond clearly and only mumbled. The officer then patted all three of them down. Upon feeling what he thought were guns in the coat pockets of Terry and Chilton, he ordered the men to remove their jackets, face the wall, and place their hands above their heads. The officer removed handguns from the coat pockets of both Terry and Chilton and charged them with the possession of a weapon. Katz was released as the officer had no reason to search him further.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account