In Miami, Police can use the Criminal Loitering and Prowling Statute as a Pretext to Search People

No United States citizen, suspected of criminal wrongdoing can be searched without a warrant unless one of the specific exceptions can be found. One of those exceptions is a search incident to arrest. When a criminal suspect is placed under arrest a police officer is allowed to conduct a warrantless search of the suspect’s person and the area within reach of the defendant. This is ostensibly to give law enforcement the opportunity to find any weapons that might pose a danger to the officer.

Therefore, if an officer has a suspicion that someone might be carrying drugs, guns or some other form of contraband, one course of action is to find some crime that the suspect can be arrested for.

In this case the police officer is best served by finding a poorly defined open-ended crime. Loitering and prowling is just such a crime. Florida Statutes § 856.021(1), makes it unlawful for any person to loiter or prowl in a place, at a time or in a manner not usual for law-abiding individuals, under circumstances that warrant a justifiable and reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity.