Thursday, May 28, 2015

Citizen Rights When Pulled Over

Stress and anxiety often take over when lights flash and sirens blare. If citizens remain calm, they can remember their rights to protect themselves. Police must stay within legal limits as they process citizens in this situation. An experienced lawyer can offer guidance and assistance.

- Police must have reasonable suspicion to stop and question. Reasonable suspicious is defined as clear articulable facts that the individual has, is about to, or just committed a crime. Police may also stop a vehicle for civil motor infractions such as speeding or erratic driving. These types of stops can provide the Officer the probable cause they need to search and arrest an individual. Often probable cause is provided to the police by the individual during the questioning phase of a legitimate traffic stop. 

- Police may request that a driver exit a car. It is best to cooperate with requests by the Officer to produce identification but not to engage in detailed conversation. It is important to understand that the Officer is trained to use this time to gather information to use against the individual if they decide to make an arrest.  If the Officer decides to make an arrest to you must comply with them even if you feel it is unjustified. Failure to comply can lead to additional charges that may be used to prosecute the person even if the original reason to arrest is determined to be unjustified. 

- Drivers can refuse a sobriety test and Breathalyzer. These are examples of information the Officer is gathering in their determination whether to make arrest. Much like statements, you have a right not to actively provide this information to the Officer.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts through statutes and regulation has promulgated consequences imposed by the Registry of Motor Vehicles for your failure to take a Breathalyzer test. These consequences depend on the individual’s past. It is important to understand that they are not criminally imposed sanctions but can often result in the loss of license for a considerable period of time.  Many states have similar automatic license suspensions when drivers refuse testing.

- A police search of a vehicle may occur if the Officer has determined that probable cause exits that individual has, is about to, or just committed a crime. This is a higher standard then necessary to stop and question an individual. You should never question the Officer’s determination or interfere with the Officer’s search of the vehicle. If the Officer has violated your constitutional rights the Salem MA criminal defense lawyers at Maclachlan & Allen, LLP will file the appropriate motions to suppress the illegally obtained evidence. 

People with questions can learn about citizen rights from a trusted lawyer. Salem MA criminal defense lawyers at Maclachlan & Allen, LLP is experienced with working with anyone charged with a crime. They will work to preserve your rights and defend you against aggressive prosecution. 

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