These traffic stops/drug arrests are not open and shut. Depending on the circumstances, you may have defenses that may exclude evidence or otherwise reduce the negative impact on your life.
If you’re pulled over, present your license, registration, and proof of insurance. If the officer didn’t have a legitimate, reasonable suspicion that you committed, are committing, or will commit a crime, there’s no basis to pull you over, so any evidence obtained afterward should be excluded from use against you.
After a traffic stop, the officer has an opportunity to see if something more serious is going on. This opens the door to finding evidence of illegal drug or gun possession if the driver has an outstanding arrest warrant or if the vehicle is stolen.
You won’t know if there’s reasonable suspicion or not at the time, so don’t help the officer build a case against you by answering questions. Be professional and polite but tell the officer you’re using your constitutional rights not to answer questions without speaking to an attorney first.
Even if the officer has a reasonable suspicion to justify pulling you over, that’s not enough to search your vehicle or arrest you. The police need probable cause you’re committing or committed a crime to search your car. That’s a belief based on facts the officer can articulate specifically and clearly — it can’t be based on a guess or a hunch.
The officer may ask you to step out of your vehicle if you’re saying or doing something to make the officer think you may be a threat. Comply with the officer’s request if you are asked to exit your vehicle — you shouldn’t escalate the situation.
The officer will probably pat you down if you’re out of the vehicle. If they find illegal drugs, you may be arrested. But if there was no reasonable suspicion for the stop or getting you out of your vehicle, that evidence should be excluded, and the charges dropped.
The officer may ask you for permission to search your car. You should calmly, professionally refuse. There’s no need for you to make the officer’s job easier.
The officer may get a search warrant, which will allow the search, but holding law enforcement to its obligations and burdens of proof protects you in the long run.
Keep in mind that even without a warrant or probable cause, an officer can still find incriminating evidence if:
However, these types of searches can be contested too. If the prosecution can’t establish a valid exception to obtaining a search warrant, a judge should prevent the evidence from being introduced.
If you’re arrested, call an experienced defense attorney. Depending on what you’re accused of possessing and how much, you may face serious charges. Your future is at stake, and trying to work your way through the criminal justice maze alone may get you in deeper trouble.
You should also stay calm. Drug possession charges, especially those stemming from a traffic stop, rely on accurate measurements, lab testing, and official chains of custody. The prosecution has the burden of proof, and the officer may have made many mistakes. There may be ways to put this behind you that are far less damaging than you fear.
What you should not do, whether you’re in your vehicle, a police cruiser, or the police station, is answer an officer’s questions. You can’t be forced to incriminate yourself, and you have a right to legal counsel when dealing with the police. These rights do you no good if you don’t use them.
Just because you’re arrested doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted. We will investigate your case, fight your charges at every opportunity, and put in the work needed to get you the best outcome possible.