Were You Illegally Pulled Over In Georgia?
If you’re driving and you suddenly see lights behind you and hear the siren of a police car, it’s likely that your stomach will drop. Best case scenario you’ll be able to continue driving after a brief interaction, perhaps having received a ticket or a warning. Worst case scenario, you may find yourself in handcuffs. It’s often hard to predict the outcome, and the tone of an interaction with a police officer can seemingly change in the blink of an eye. It’s important to understand though, that regardless of what transpires during a stop, it may not be admissible in court if the initial stop was illegal.
What Makes a Police Stop Illegal?
In order to pull someone over, police must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a traffic violation was committed by the driver or is currently being committed by the driver. This suspicion cannot be generated retroactively. This means that if someone is pulled over simply because of their race, the stop is illegal and anything that happened subsequently cannot be used against them in court. Of course, this can be hard to prove. Generally, if the matter goes to court your lawyer will start by questioning the officer about their suspicion, and try to break it down, establishing that it was not reasonable. Statements made by the officers to you or that are caught on bodycam footage may also be used to establish what their motive was in pulling you over and past conduct and statistics may also come into play in developing a pattern of behavior.
What if Police Search Your Car?
Even if police have a valid reason to pull you over, that does not give them the right to search your car. In order to search your car, police need more than reasonable suspicion. They either need your consent, or probable cause. Probable cause means that the officers have reason to believe that it is more likely than not that there is evidence of a crime in your car. This must be supported by articulable facts and circumstances. For instance, seeing a weapon or open container of alcohol in the front seat may give the officers probable cause to search your vehicle. It’s critical to understand that if officers search your vehicle without probable cause and without obtaining your consent, it is a violation of your constitutional rights. This means that anything the officers find while searching your vehicle cannot be used against you in court, as it is deemed “fruit of the poisonous tree.” This will generally result in your case being dismissed.
Talk to Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers
If you are facing criminal charges in Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, or anywhere in Georgia, based on a stop or search that you believe may have been in violation of your constitutional rights, Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers will fight to get you the justice you deserve. Contact our Georgia criminal lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.