Terry v. Ohio

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Terry v. Ohio

Supreme Court of the United States

88 S.Ct. 1868 (1968)

Facts of the Case

A police officer observed defendant Terry and another individual in what he believed was the commission of a daylight robbery. The officer approached the defendant, asked the defendant’s name, and then patted Terry for weapons. Upon discovering a firearm, the officer removed the gun from Terry. The state court overruled a pretrial motion to suppress the admission of the firearm, the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on the grounds that no substantial constitutional question was involved, and the defendant filed a petition to the State Supreme Court.

Basis of Appeal

On appeal, Terry claimed the court erred by allowing the admission of the firearm, and that the weapon was protected under Second Amendment rights and discovered during an unlawful search without a warrant.


In Terry, the Supreme Court held that the police officer who observed defendants reasonably believed that they were committing a crime. The Supreme Court also held that the officer acted reasonably by seizing the defendant and searching him for weapons. This search was not in violation of the Fourth Amendment as was the case in Carroll versus United States. Lastly, the court ruled that the search did not exceed the reasonable scope of a search in that the officer patted down Terry’s clothes, without placing his hands in Terry’s pockets or under his clothes. Only then did he remove the gun from Terry. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision.