When police stop and search a pedestrian, this is commonly known as a stop and frisk. When police stop an automobile, this is known as a traffic stop. If the police stop a motor vehicle on minor infringements in order to investigate other suspected criminal activity, this is known as a pretextual stop. Additional rules apply to stops that occur on a bus.[3]

  • How do you expect that to work? Everybody waits on the curbside until the public defender arrives?
    – o.m.
    Jul 11, 2022 at 4:22
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    Where did that quote come from? It's good practice for quotes to be supported by a link to their source so other users can check their veracity and see the bigger picture.
    – user35069
    Jul 11, 2022 at 7:58
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    @Rick Versions of the quote appear on a number of web sites, including dbpedia.org/page/Terry_stop It may have started as a quote from the Wikipedia article "Terry Stop" where the wording appears, complete with the citation number [3]. user avatar Germania, please edit the question to show the actual source used. Jul 11, 2022 at 18:06

2 Answers 2



Besides this being clearly unworkable, the requirements for the state providing public defense attorneys include being in need (you will need to provide an affadavit or similar to the effect) and when the defendant is at risk of significant time of confinement. The 5 to 15 minutes of the traffic or Terry stop are not considered significant. Nor are the processing times of arresting you and taking you in.

Trying to make the officer provide you with an attorney (or declaring you aren't doing anything without one) before complying with their orders may well result in your incarceration and subsequent assignment of a public defender.


Does one have the power to order the police to provide them with a public defendant lawyer during a traffic stop, stop-and-frisk, or pretextual stop?


The right to a lawyer generally attaches only when you are arraigned for a crime in court.

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    One being questioned while in custody after a formal arrest has a right to a lawyer, but possibly not to a public defender free of charge. Jul 11, 2022 at 18:09

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