Criminal Defense

What Should I Do If I Am Stopped By Police?

By
Gregory Salnick
February 24, 2021

In an old Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song, David Crosby sings: “it increases my paranoia, like looking at my mirror and seeing a police car.” Even if you are not a rock star with a very public history of substance abuse issues, an unanticipated interaction with a law enforcement official can be a stressful and potentially damaging experience as far as your finances and career are concerned. 

In an old Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song, David Crosby sings: “it increases my paranoia, like looking at my mirror and seeing a police car.” Even if you are not a rock star with a very public history of substance abuse issues, an unanticipated interaction with a law enforcement official can be a stressful and potentially damaging experience as far as your finances and career are concerned. 

So, here’s the takeaway from today’s blog post: it may feel like the cops wield all of the power in a traffic stop or other such random encounter, but YOU actually have certain constitutional rights and protections that they must recognize and adhere to in their dealings with you. Keep reading to hear more about what your rights are, when to assert them and in what manner, and how to minimize the overall drama when speaking with a police officer. 

If you are in immediate need of legal counsel in West Palm Beach, FL, you can call us right away at 561-471-1000 for a free consultation. Importantly, at the Law Offices of Salnick & Fuchs P.A., our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you get with us, we will work hard to see that you are equipped with a strong defense strategy that suits your unique needs so that you have the best possible chance at beating any criminal charges that result from your unwanted police stop.

What Can I Do To Protect Myself If I Am Pulled Over?

When the sirens and lights kick in signifying that you are being selected for a private audience with a Florida police officer, you should make use of your turn signal, begin slowing down your vehicle, and come to a complete stop at the first safe spot to do so. After your car is still, you can turn off your engine, make use of your overhead lights, roll down your driver’s side window, and put your hands on the steering wheel so the officer knows that you are not looking to do them any harm.

If they ask to see your driver’s license, registration and insurance ID card, it is OK to reach for those items, slowly and deliberately handing them over to the cop. Yet, at this stage, it is in your best interest to not make any sudden or erratic movements as the officer has a job to do and may be as nervous as you are about the encounter.

Am I Required To Answer A Police Officer’s Questions?

Let’s say you are cruising through Broward County in the wee wee hours when you are suddenly pulled over by a very inquisitive police officer. So long as you have provided your valid driver’s license, registration and insurance details, you certainly have the right to remain silent beyond that. 

What does that mean, exactly? It means that you don’t have any obligation to answer questions about what you are doing out so late, where you are going and so forth. That said, generic biographical information is fair game especially if the officer is merely attempting to confirm your identity. It is a fine line between being cooperative and saying too much.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind: if at any point you do not feel comfortable speaking, you need to say so. To move things along, you can always ask if you are under arrest or being cited for anything in particular so as not to prolong the awkward (and potentially incriminating) small talk.

Do They Need A Warrant To Search My Car?

Yes and no! Remember, even if you don’t think you are doing anything wrong, you never want to consent to a car search without a warrant. Unfortunately, there are certain situations in which an officer is legally allowed to rummage through your vehicle and personal possessions.

The chief reason that a cop can search your car without a warrant is called probable cause. This essentially means that they have reason enough to believe that criminal activity is taking place. Another free pass that they get is when something illegal is happening in plain sight, i.e. there is a line of cocaine and a razor blade on the dashboard.

Other than cases involving probable cause or plain sight activities, cops do not have blanket authority to search your car just because they feel like it. And any “evidence” that is unearthed in the course of an illegal search and seizure will be inadmissible in court. That’s where we come in. Our forthright Florida-based team takes all criminal cases, no matter how big or small, and we will swiftly make your defense our top priority.

What If I Get Arrested?

This can be a very disconcerting experience. Regardless, try to keep your wits about you and tell the arresting officer that you intend to remain silent. But before you put yourself on mute, be sure to ask for a lawyer ASAP. Since anything you say can be used against you in court, this is not the time to be a smart aleck, or even to protest your (mis)treatment. You have the right to make a phone call, and you’ll want to make it count.

Who Can I Trust For Criminal Defense In Palm Beach?

If you are in a bad situation in the West Palm Beach area, we have some good news for you: the criminal defense attorneys of Salnick & Fuchs, P.A., can provide a unique combination of experience, skills and knowledge all designed to quickly make things better for you. And you can feel more confident about your prospects with us on your side because our lawyers practice criminal defense law exclusively, representing individuals who are accused of any type of crime or under investigation by state or federal authorities. 

Following an arrest as the result of a traffic stop or some other unwelcome incident, we hope you will contact us immediately. With free consultations, you literally have nothing to lose by reaching out.

Gregory Salnick

Mr. Salnick is a Florida Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Law. He began his legal career at the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office where he prosecuted over 90 jury trials, ranging from DUI to murder, armed robbery and drug trafficking. Mr. Salnick quickly gained a reputation as a tenacious and ethical attorney at law. Mr. Salnick now serves as state and federal criminal defense attorney at Salnick & Fuchs, P. A.

Call us today at
561-471-1000