When a police officer pulls your car over, it can be very difficult to protest, even if you believe there is no legal justification for the stop. You might feel forced to provide a sample for a sobriety test or to consent to a search of your vehicle. However, if the stop lacked proper legal grounds, the evidence collected can be excluded at trial, which is often a fatal blow to the prosecution’s case. Carolina Law Group, headed by Tommy Kellis, is a New Bern firm that investigates vehicle stop cases thoroughly to determine if the reasonable suspicion standard was violated. If so, our lawyers will advocate for a decision that removes subsequently gathered evidence from the case against you.
What constitutes an unlawful traffic stop?
You have a constitutional right to be free from unreasonable, warrantless searches in your car, just as you do in your home. Vehicle stops are usually made on the spur of the moment and without a warrant. Therefore, the police must be able to demonstrate that their decision to pull you over was reasonable and based on articulable factors rather than just a hunch. Whether a stop was appropriate is not just a key factor in traffic defense cases, but also other types of prosecutions, such as drug cases based on substances found within a defendant’s car.
The term “reasonable suspicion” might seem like a subjective standard, but case law has established some guidelines to determine if proper legal grounds existed. The reasonable suspicion that an officer cites must be articulable. That means the officer must provide objective, factual reasons why they believed illegal activity was occurring. Evidence taken at a stop that is premised on an officer’s gut feeling should not be admissible.
There are several reasons why a law enforcement officer might make an improper stop, such as:
Whatever led the police officer to pull your car over, we go beyond the official account to determine if the authorities overstepped their bounds. We look at police reports, physical evidence and witness accounts to see what specifically led to the stop.
The authorities don’t volunteer the fact that a traffic stop lacked the necessary legal justification. Unless you retain an experienced North Carolina defense lawyer, you might never know that the critical evidence used against you could have been thrown out. Our experienced lawyers review the facts carefully and conduct further investigation when warranted to determine if your car was pulled over unlawfully.
The Carolina Law Group in New Bern represents clients in a wide range of North Carolina criminal defense matters, including cases where evidence was collected in an illegal vehicle stop. For a consultation, please call 252-636-3737 or contact us online.