Often times when clients come to meet with me about a criminal case I am asked "what should I do if the police pull me over." I am hopeful this brief guide can provide some assistance should you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
You may be upset because you do not believe there was a valid reason for you to have been pulled over. If so, now is not the time to voice that frustration. If the traffic stop was illegal the appropriate place to address its validity is in court, not on the side of the road.
Do Not Make Furtive or Suspicious Movements.
If you are stopped, pull over to the side of the road and keep your hands on the steering wheel. The officer will probably tell you why you were pulled over and ask you for your license and registration. Before reaching for anything, ask for the officer's permission to reach for your wallet and to get in the glove box. Furtive movements can lead to a vehicle search which is what you are trying to avoid.
Do Not Consent to A Search of Your Vehicle.
If you are asked for permission to search your vehicle and you believe there is something inside your vehicle that is illegal do not provide consent to search your vehicle. The officer will either need get a warrant or use another basis to get into the vehicle besides your consent.
Say as Little as Possible
You will likely be asked a variety of questions by an officer who stops your vehicle. Chances are the officer is not really interested in your day, rather, he is trying to determine if you are providing inconsistent answers to his questions. This often leads to suspicion by the officer. To the extent possible, only provide basic information to the officer in a cooperative, polite fashion. If something IS found in your vehicle that is not legal do not talk about it.
Invoke Your Right to Counsel
If you are detained and read your Miranda Warnings or you are being asked questions about something illegal found in your vehicle do not respond to the questioning and advise that you need to consult with a lawyer before answering any more questions.
Call a Lawyer
If you have been arrested or called by law enforcement for questioning you should consult with counsel right away. By engaging counsel early during a criminal investigation you are ensuring your rights are protected and defenses are preserved!
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