Under both the Washington and U.S. Constitutions, warrantless seizures are generally prohibited. Police may, however, briefly stop and question a person if the officer has a well-founded suspicion the person was connected to actual or potential criminal activity. The suspicion must be based on objective facts. This type of stop is called an investigative stop or a Terry stop. In a recent case, a man challenged a conviction, arguing he had been placed under custodial arrest without probable cause and not held for a Terry stop.
A store employee called 911 when she saw a man in the store she thought had previously stolen video equipment. She described the man and said she had not seen him steal anything that day, but there was video of him stealing previously. She told the 911 operator the direction he was riding his bike after he left the store.
A police officer found the defendant, who matched most of the description and was riding his bike in the direction the employee stated. The officer told the defendant about the 911 call. The defendant denied being involved in a theft. The officer told him he could not leave and handcuffed him. The officer also gave him his Miranda warning.