What do the police need to stop and pat you down? This question comes up quite often when the police find weapons or drugs/contraband on a person when they stop and conduct what is known as a "pat down." Many of the folks arrested in this fashion have their lawyers file motions which are designed to have the evidence thrown out (these are called "motions to suppress"). A number of appellate cases hold that if the police can point to objective facts which lead them to have "reasonable suspicion of criminal activity," they can temporarily stop and detain and conduct a "limited" "pat-down" search of the defendant. Other cases have held that this pat-down must be based upon a reasonable belief that the defendant is also armed (vs. just possessing drugs). Further, some cases have held that the pat-down is restricted to looking for weapons only - and cannot be used as a pretext for a search for drugs. A recent case out of Stark County Ohio shows how different judges on the very same appellate panel can disagree on how this pat-down law works. We often have to have a good idea of how a particular judge views pat-downs before we can suggest a legal strategy to our clients. We base this off of years of experience in dealing with these matters.