If you've been stopped by a police officer in Delaware County, it's very important that you are aware of your rights. Knowledge is the key to avoiding an arrest and potential criminal charges.
Here are some of the most important rights you can flex during a traffic stop:
An officer can't pull you over unless they have probable cause.
An officer can't pull you over based on a mere hunch. They need a good reason, or “probable cause,” to make a stop based on the suspicion you've done something wrong. A cop must be able to identify that you've violated the law in some way to justify a stop. This violation could be (and often is) insignificant like the failure to use a turning signal, speeding, or driving with a broken taillight.
You have the right to refuse the search of your vehicle.
When a police officer pulls you over, they might ask for you to search your vehicle. This question is a method that many law enforcement officers use to get you to waive your Fourth Amendment rights - which protects citizens from unwarranted searches and seizures. Even if you feel like there isn't anything incriminating in your vehicle, the answer to a search should always be no. If you even so much as indicate your consent to a search, anything an officer finds - whether you're aware of its presence or not - can be used as justification to constitute an arrest.
It's important to note that if you refuse a search, an officer may not always respect this refusal. An officer may still perform a search without your consent, but they will still have to provide their reasons for the search in a police report.
You have the right to stay in your vehicle.
There is no law that requires you to get out during a stop, so it's perfectly legal to remain in your vehicle. When officers make the request for a person to step out of their car, it's usually a precautionary measure. They may be concerned that you may be hiding any concealed weapons. But remember, your safety should be considered too. Based on your interactions with an officer, you can gauge whether or not it's in your best interest to get out of the car upon the request of an officer or to stay seated.
You must be “Mirandized” before you can be asked about a crime.
The police are required to read a suspect a Miranda Warning before they intend to bring them into custody and interrogate them. It is then, and only then when they can attempt to ask you specific details about your incident. Regardless, it's recommended that you don't say anything to the authorities without an attorney present.
Delaware County Criminal Defense Attorney
When you've been stopped, protecting yourself should be your main priority. The most effective way of doing so is to retain a skilled Delaware County criminal defense attorney. Legal professional Joseph D. Lento has successfully represented countless clients who've acquired misdemeanor and felony charges and has helped them get their sentence reduced, and their charges dismissed. For a case evaluation, contact him today online or by phone at (215) 535-5353.