On December 17, 2022, Lancaster Police pulled over a 16-year-old driver during a routine traffic stop nearing 2:00 a.m., uncovering a stolen handgun, marijuana, and cocaine in the vehicle. The driver was one of five occupants in the vehicle, two of whom were adults. The driver is being held in juvenile custody and is facing juvenile criminal charges related to drug possession, possession of a firearm by a minor, unlicensed firearm possession, and a summary count of minor curfew violation. Officers report that a routine traffic stop was conducted after police witnessed the vehicle blow through several stop signs above the posted speed limit. Law enforcement has not yet reported what led to a search of the vehicle or what relation the adults had to the minors in the vehicle. Although the charges may seem like a “slam dunk” for the state because teenagers were out late with drugs, this is hardly the case. Every criminal case comes down to evidence and procedure. If law enforcement did not follow procedure and act appropriately, any evidence seized might not be admissible in court. If your child has been arrested following a routine traffic stop, you should speak with qualified juvenile defense attorney Joseph Lento immediately.
The Facts Matter - Minors Have Rights
Although the juvenile system offers more leeway in terms of rehabilitation programs, police must adhere to the same procedural requirements when conducting traffic stops and searching juvenile drivers. Prior to conducting a search of a vehicle, officers must seek the consent of the driver to search the vehicle. If a minor did provide “consent” to search their vehicle, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to demonstrate that the consent was not provided on legal grounds because it was obtained through methods of fear, duress, intimidation, etc. Although officers may conduct a warrantless search in exigent circumstances, the legality of whether these exigent circumstances existed must be considered as they would in a matter involving adult defendants.
Just as adults must be given their Miranda Rights, juveniles are also afforded the same rights under the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions, such as the right against self-incrimination, to remain silent, to speak with an attorney, etc. While many adults do not even understand the complexity of their rights and their ability to invoke them, it should not be a surprise that minors, who are often intimidated and incredibly scared during their encounters with law enforcement, are responding at even more of a disadvantage.
Finally, minors may feel pressured or scared by their peers or co-conspirators. Often, adults may place their contraband on minors or even intimidate the minors into lying to police and taking ownership of contraband that doesn't actually belong to them.
Don't Wait to Discuss Your Child's Future. Contact The Lento Law Firm Today.
If your child is facing criminal charges resulting from a routine traffic stop, attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can help examine the facts at play and determine if Law Enforcement acted appropriately. It's important for both you and your child to understand their rights. Attorney Lento and his team are experienced in handling juvenile defense matters and will work with you to ensure your child's future is not jeopardized. The juvenile system, in particular, offers juveniles many alternative means of retribution, and Attorney Lento is skilled at navigating these options. Contact us today by calling (888) 535-3686 or by using our online contact form.
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