Can a Police Officer Pat You Down for Being Nervous ?
In Moore v. Commonwealth, 12 Va. App. 404, 406-07, 404 S.E.2d 77, 78 (1991), the stop took place during daylight hours while Moore was alone in his car. Id. at 406, 404 S.E.2d at 78.
Moore made no attempt to evade the police and no unusual gestures to suggest that he might have a weapon on his person or inside the car. Id.
The officer conducting the stop "admitted that it is common for a person to be nervous when stopped by the police." Id.
Although the officer conducting the stop knew other officers had Moore under surveillance, he did not know the reason for the surveillance and was aware of no other basis for believing Moore might be armed and dangerous. Id.
Under these facts, the Court held the officer improperly "based the pat-down on his subjective evaluation of Moore's nervousness" and that he lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion to believe Moore was armed and dangerous. Moore, 12 Va. App. at 406-07, 404 S.E.2d at 78.