Most of the people I talk with get pulled over by a deputy or trooper. However, in a few cases the defendant says, "but the officer didn't pull me over." What's up with that? I've heard people say that for charges ranging from DUI to reckless driving to driving on a suspended license. Sometimes people will drive along, park, get out of their vehicle, and then see an officer approaching them. They end up getting arrested or charged with a traffic violation. Is it legal? Yes. The police can walk up to you to talk any time. It's called a "consensual encounter." They can walk up to you just like any other person. The flip side of that coin is that you don't have to talk back. And you may be free to walk away. (If they have reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime or traffic infraction, they can detain you for a moment to investigate it.) Why does all this matter? The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects our right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If the police obtain evidence in violation of the 4th Amendment, it should be kept out of court. Thus, our first analysis in many cases is whether or not the initial encounter with the police was legal (for instance, there are critical requirements for check points). If it wasn't legal, we might be on our way to victory. Unfortunately, consensual encounters are legal. If the police walked up to you and started talking, any statements you made will probably be used against you. All is not lost. We definitely need to examine the facts and circumstances of your case. Even if the police encounter was legal, we may be able to mount other defenses. Photo by Thomas Hawk Originally published at AndrewFlusche.com. © 2011 Andrew Flusche. But the Officer Didn't Pull Me Over
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