4th Amendment Rights Case Study

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Issue: Whether Mr. Howard’s 4th Amendment rights were violated when he was stopped and frisked by officers whose only basis for such a stop was an anonymous phone tip?

Our client, Happy Howard, was carrying a concealed weapon while out at a festival. Upon raising his elbow, another citizen noticed the concealed gun and made an anonymous phone tip to the police. The anonymous tipster gave Mr. Howard’s description as a white male, standing at a height of 5’10”, and that he was wearing jeans and a beige jacket. Based off this description, and with no other outward signs of criminal activity taking place, Mr. Howard was stopped by a security officer and subsequently frisked. Mr. Howard’s jacket was zipped, and thus, the gun could not be seen. Security personnel found the weapon on Mr. Howard’s person, and he was arrested. Mr. Howard was charged with the unlawful possession of a gun.

Due to the given facts, the encounter that took place between Happy Howard and the police officer was an improper stop that heightened into an unlawful search and seizure,
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State, 995 So. 2d 285 (Fla. 2008), an anonymous tip was called in to the police dispatch of a man brandishing a weapon outside of a grocery store. The tipster identified the suspect as a black male wearing a white T-shirt and blue jean shorts. One officer arrived at the dispatched location and had an individual meeting the description of the suspect held at gunpoint. When a second officer arrived, she drew her weapon as well, and they ordered the man, George Baptiste, to lie down on the ground. After both of these events took place, a man identifying himself as the tipster arrived and identified the man as the one he allegedly witnessed holding the gun out in front of the store. The officers frisked Baptiste, and during this act, Baptiste told the officers he had a firearm. The police obtained that weapon from his person. The anonymous tipster left and is still an unknown

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