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Terry Frisk – Scope, Generally

State v. Martin D. Triplett, 2005 WI App 255
For Triplett: Syovata Edari, SPD, Milwaukee Appellate / Milwaukee Trial


¶11      Despite the fact-specific nature of our analysis, we glean from the case law several useful guiding principles. First, an officer should confine his or her search “strictly to what [is] minimally necessary” to learn whether an individual is armed. Id. at 30. Our supreme court has stated that a proper investigative patdown “involves only a search that is carefully limited to a pat-down of the outer clothing of a suspect,” State v. Richardson, 156 Wis. 2d 128, 146-47, 456 N.W.2d 830 (1990). It has defined “patdown” to mean a search characterized by “careful exploration of the outer surfaces of a person’s clothing.” See State v. Washington, 134 Wis. 2d 108, 122, 396 N.W.2d 156 (1986) (citation omitted), abrogated on other grounds by State v. Swanson, 164 Wis. 2d 437, 475 N.W.2d 148 (1991), abrogated on other grounds by State v. Sykes, 2005 WI 48, 279 Wis. 2d 742, 695 N.W.2d 277. But seee.g.State v. Hill, 545 F.2d 1191, 1193 (9th Cir. 1976) (upholding search in which officer seeking information from an individual near the scene of a bank robbery lifted the individual’s shirt when he detected a bulge; commenting that “ [a]ny limited intrusion designed to discover guns, knives, clubs or other instruments of assault [is] permissible” (emphasis added.)).


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