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Adams v. Williams

Significance, Protective Searches For Weapons Are Permissible, A Dangerous Extension Of Terry, Impact


Frederick E. Adams


Robert Williams

Petitioner's Claim

That a police officer does not violate the Fourth Amendment by reaching in to a car window and removing a gun from the waistband of a driver when the officer has reason to believe that the suspect is armed and dangerous.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Donald A. Browne

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Edward F. Hennessey III

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist (writing for the Court), Potter Stewart, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

12 June 1972


As long as an officer is permitted to make a forcible traffic stop to investigate evidence of wrongdoing, the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the officer from conducting a limited search for weapons so that he may safely pursue his investigation when the officer has reason to believe that the suspect is armed and dangerous.

Related Cases

  • Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).
  • Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981).
  • Minnesota v. Dickerson, 508 U.S. 366 (1993).

Further Readings

  • Dressler, Joshua. Understanding Criminal Procedure. New York: Matthew Bender & Co., 1991.
  • LaFave, Wayne R. Search and Seizure: A Treatise on the Fourth Amendment, 3rd ed. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co., 1996.
  • Project on Law Enforcement Policy and Rulemaking. Stop and Frisk. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University College of Law, 1974.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972