Does the fact that you look like a guy who committed a crime constitute grounds for detention? In other words, can you be pulled over for looking like a suspect who committed some crime and for no other reason?

  • 1
    Yes. You can even be arrested for reasonably matching the description of a criminal suspect. References supporting this answer can be readily found through search engine.
    – feetwet
    Jul 8, 2016 at 17:44
  • Ok, but certainly you can't be detained just because you're black and male and a guy who robbed a bank last week was black and male? That's what I'm driving at.
    – Mr. A
    Jul 8, 2016 at 17:46
  • 3
    We've answered this here: the officer would need a "particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of . . . criminal activity". Merely being black and male will not be held to be sufficiently particularized.
    – user3851
    Jul 8, 2016 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


If you are a black man, you don't look like every other black man. If you are driving around in a car like many, many other people, then being black and male doesn't give any reasonable grounds to believe that you would be the black male person suspected of a crime that the police is looking for.

On the other hand, if the police officer has a picture of the criminal, and reasonably good eyes, and you do indeed look like the criminal, yes of course you can be detained.

And if a crime happened, and the police managed to close off the crime scene and hold every single person who could have committed the crime, and there is evidence that a black male committed the crime, and you are the only black male present, then you have a problem. You would have the same problem if you were the only white female present, and there was evidence that a white female committed the crime.

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