Dirk Padgett Law PLLC
Former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney / Former Military Prosecutor / Former Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney

3 elements of a traffic stop that could violate your rights

Imagine you are driving home after a night out with friends. You’re tired and ready to get in bed, but suddenly you see red and blue police lights flashing in your rearview mirror. You pull over, police talk to you briefly, conduct a search of your car and find some medications for which you don’t have a prescription. Instead of crawling into bed, you are put in the back of the cop car.

For many people, this is not an imaginary scenario but an all-too real depiction of a situation leading up to an arrest on drug charges. If this sounds familiar to you, you should know that there may be elements of a traffic stop like this one that violate your rights.

The stop

Traffic stops can violate your rights if conducted improperly. This includes pulling you over without reasonable, articulable suspicion of a crime. If officers cannot explain why they pulled you over, or if there is reason to suspect the stop was discriminatory, then the stop may be deemed improper.

The search

One of the biggest mistakes people make during a traffic stop is consenting to a warrantless search. Remember that you can politely refuse to consent to a search unless and until an officer secures a search warrant.

If you can successfully prove that a search was improper, anything police found as a result of that search – including drugs or drug paraphernalia – can be inadmissible.

The arrest

There are specific procedures in place to arrest someone. If police violate these procedures, then the arrest may be thrown out. This can happen if they do not read you your Miranda rights before an interrogation or if they use unreasonable force, for example. Challenging police procedure is difficult, but traffic stops have the potential to become highly volatile and mistakes can be made in the heat of the moment.

Challenging these or other elements of your situation

If you are facing criminal charges like drug possession or trafficking as a result of a traffic stop, it can be crucial that you scrutinize these and other elements of the arrest to identify any misconduct. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can defend yourself, protect your rights and avoid the damaging penalties of a conviction.

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Throughout Mr. Padgett's career, he has worked on cases covering a wide variety of offenses, from white collar crime and larceny to war crimes and capital murder. In 2009, he served as lead prosecutor in the trial of Ibrahim al Qosi, an al Qaeda member and bodyguard to Osama bin Laden, at Guantanamo Bay Prison.

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