The use of handcuffs doesn’t necessarily turn a Terry Stop into a de facto arrest.

The defendant and two other men were detained under a Terry Stop.  The officers told the men they were not under arrest and did not Mirandize them.  The officers then conducted a Terry Frisk and  handcuffed the men during the investigatory stop. The defendant argued that the use of handcuffs turned the detention into a de facto arrest that was done without probable cause and therefore physical evidence and un-Mirandized statements should be suppressed.

The court recognized that handcuff use is a “hallmark of a formal arrest” but also recognized that an LEO faced with a dangerous situation has “a right to take reasonable steps to protect himself” and that the use of handcuffs was “less intimidating and less dangerous” than holding them at gunpoint.   The court therefore ruled the use of handcuffs under these facts was reasonable and was not a de facto arrest.

LEGAL REFRESHER: When a court considers a claim of de facto arrest, the following facts are “generally deemed relevant”: (1) the length of time involved in the stop; (2) its public or private setting; (3) the number of participating law enforcement officers; (4) the risk of danger presented by the person stopped; and (5) the display or use of physical force against the person stopped, including firearms, handcuffs, and leg irons.