POLICE STOP QUESTIONS
Our law firm defends many accused people charged with crimes involving the illegal possession of drugs and guns in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Most of these cases begin with a police traffic stop. I have a lot of articles on this topic but this one focuses on the specific questions that your criminal defense attorney should be asking you during that initial consultation if you're charged with an illegal gun or narcotic offense
Following that stop, there is usually a search of either the car or the person which leads to an arrest and criminal charges for the possession of an illegal gun or drug. Drug and firearms charges can be graded as misdemeanor offenses in Pennsylvania but in most situations, our clients face felony charges.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor Charges
There is a substantial difference between a felony and misdemeanor charge in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. If you are charged with a felony and convicted, you face not only the stigma of being a convicted felon but also the conviction will follow you into most job applications and limit your options down the road. Since the consequences of felony conviction and even the misdemeanor, in some cases, can dramatically affect your long term prospects, it’s very important that you hire an attorney who will initially focus on the basis for the initial stop and, if necessary, the basis for the search of the vehicle.
Probable Cause To Stop & Search
Police must have probable cause to stop and search a vehicle. While there are situations where police do not need probable cause to stop a car (DUI/DWI) they, at least, need reasonable suspicion and cannot stop a car simply based on some type of hunch or because it fits the description of some “typical drug dealer”. While there are obviously many defenses that your criminal defense lawyer can assert at trial, such as constructive and active possession of an illegal narcotic or drug (New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substance), it’s very important that he look at pre-trial issues such as probable cause and reasonable suspicion before looking at possible trial arguments.
There are many situations where your attorney can get charges dismissed based on a violation of your 4th Amendment rights under the US Constitution as well as your rights under the Pennsylvania Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) and the New Jersey Constitution (Article 1, paragraph 7).
What Questions Should Your Lawyer Ask If You’re Charged With a Drug, Gun or DUI Offense?
If you are charged with a crime involving the possession of a drug, gun, or even a DUI, your lawyer should always ask the following questions:
- Do you know why police stopped your car?
- Did the police tell you why they stopped your car?
- Was there any type of contraband (drug or gun) in plain view of police?
- Where were you in relation to the contraband that police found?
- If police didn’t have a search warrant, did they tell you why they were searching the car?
- Who else was in the car with you?
- Where were these other passengers in relation to the items found?
- Did you or any other passengers admit to or take possession of the items in question?
- Did police read you Miranda Rights prior to you making a statement?
- Was anyone else arrested or let go?
I answer all of these questions in each one of my free downloadable books and I encourage you to visit that section of this website and also keep reading my blog. Our law firm looks forward to helping you!