Was my traffic stop legal?
UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022
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Was my traffic stop legal?
If someone in the know can answer a quick question I would really appreciate it. The officer that stopped me because he said I didn’t stop fully at a stop sign Which is lie because he was behind me at the stop sign and I was aware of his presence so of course I fully stopped. Conveniently they don’t have dash cams in their police vehicles so I can’t prove that, however the officer states specifically in his report of the incident that he
Asked on March 23, 2018 under Criminal Law, Florida
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 4 years ago | Contributor
Are you writing about whether it would be legal to give you a ticket for going through a stop sign, or whether it was legal to stop you after which you are arrested for some other crime they only became aware of due to the stop (e.g. if they smelled marijuana in your car)?
A traffic ticket would be legal: a court will not care if the officer flashed his lights or not, etc. All the court will care about in traffic cases is whether you went through the stop sign or not. You can certainly try to convince the court that you did not and the officer is wrong, but be aware that courts almost always believe the trained, sworn, and neutral (no personal stake in the outcome) police officer over a driver trying to avoid a traffic ticket.
If this stop let to an arrest for some different or other offense (e.g. drugs), then if you can show that the officer lied about the circumstances of the stop (e.g. using the gas station video), that may invalidate the stop and so throw out any evidence obtained during it. The police cannot "make up" a reason for a stop to search you; they need a valid and honest/truthful reason for the stop. In this latter case, if trying to avoid a more serious charge by showing an impropriety in a stop and search, you should retain a criminal defense attorney to help you.
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