This empirical study examines legal aspects of policing in relation to the landmark Fourth Amendment United States Supreme Court case of Heien v. North Carolina. In Heien, the Court found that objectively reasonable mistakes of law by police can support traffic stops. By doing so, Heien extends the permissible margin of error for these stops by law enforcement officers. Due to the potential far-reaching implications of Heien for law enforcement conduct and Fourth Amendment privacy protections, this study aims to empirically examine officer perception and knowledge regarding Heien, including officers’ decision-making behavior with respect to Heien and its core concept of reasonable officer mistakes of laws. Utilizing a survey questionnaire administered to patrol officers, this study also examines officer understanding of key, paradigmatic interpretive cases for Heien. This is the first known study to empirically examine police perception and knowledge of Heien, its core concepts as well as interpretive jurisprudence.

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