443 U.S. 47 (1979)

Police officers stopped appellant (Brown) in a high-crime area of because he “looked suspicious” and the officers wanted to ascertain his identity.

The United States Supreme Court held that the foregoing stop was unconstitutional and repugnant to the Fourth Amendment.  The Court explained:

In the absence of any basis for suspecting appellant of misconduct, the balance between the public interest and appellant’s right to security and privacy tilts in favor of freedom from police interference . . . [E]ven assuming that [a strong social] purpose is served to some degree by stopping and demanding identification from an individual without any specific basis for believing he is involved in criminal activity, the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment do not allow it.  When such a stop is not based on objective criteria, the risk of arbitrary and abusive police practices exceeds tolerable limits.

443 U.S. at 52.

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