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Arrested as a Result of an Improper Traffic Stop

Many criminal arrests start as simple traffic offenses. Police often use their intuition to conduct reasonable traffic stops. However, in some situations, police pulling over a person that ends with a criminal arrest could be a violation of the Fourth Amendment. If you believe you’ve been pulled over and subsequently arrested due to an improper traffic stop, you will need a Maryland criminal lawyer to help you navigate the judicial system.

Arrested as a Result of an Improper Traffic Stop

If you believe you have been pulled over due to an improper traffic stop, it’s important to stay calm and communicate with the police officer. In Maryland, you have the right to remain silent, which means you don’t have to answer questions about where you’re going, where you’re coming from, etc. However, you may be asked to provide your legal name and identification. The first thing you should do as soon as you see police lights is to pull over. Remain in the vehicle with your hands on the steering wheel and await instructions from the officer.

You do not have to allow the officers to search your vehicle. Under Maryland law, police may only search a vehicle or home if they have probable cause. If you allow a search of your vehicle, you give the police permission to search the vehicle, and any incriminating evidence seized could be used against you. When you meet with Maryland criminal defense lawyers regarding an improper traffic stop, one of the first questions you’ll be asked is whether you agreed to let officers search your vehicle.

What are examples of an Improper Traffic Stop?

There are many reasons a driver can be pulled over, but the police must prove that the driver was breaking the law, and that’s why they were pulled over. It’s important to note why officers pulled you over and to share that information with your criminal lawyer St. Charles County. For instance, someone driving under the influence of marijuana may be driving very slowly. But that isn’t reason enough to pull the driver over. Under Maryland law, driving under the speed limit alone does not justify “reasonable articulable suspicion” for a police officer to make a traffic stop.

Courts in Maryland have also ensured that drivers cannot be pulled over for meeting a generic description of a suspect. For example, if the police are searching for a black male with short hair, police officers do not have the power to pull over anyone that meets that criteria. Instead, police can only use a physical description to pull over a suspect if the description of the suspect is “sufficiently unique to permit a reasonable degree of selectivity from the group of all potential suspects.” A criminal lawyer in St. Charles County can shed more light on exactly what that means, but in general, it means that police must have a unique description of the suspect that cannot be applied to a large pool of people in general, to justify pulling over a person that meets a description.

What documentation should you record and take during a traffic stop?

Although the burden of de-escalating a situation doesn’t rest on private citizens, citizens should do everything they can to remain calm during a traffic stop involving police. First, try to remain still, provide information when asked, and avoid any hostile behavior. If you believe your rights have been violated, it’s important to take note of the following:

  • Write down everything you remember as soon as possible
  • Take note of officer’s badge numbers, police car numbers, and agencies
  • Get the contact information for any witnesses
  • If you receive any injuries, seek medical attention as soon as possible and take photos
  • File a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs department as soon as possible

How your St. Charles County Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If you have had your rights violated during an improper traffic stop, a St. Charles County criminal defense lawyer can help you fight your case in court. Criminal defense lawyers in Maryland are familiar with what police are and are not authorized to do during a traffic stop. The attorneys at the Law Office of Robert Castro will go over the specifics of your case and provide you with legal counsel and advise you what your next step should be. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.