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When an Illinois Traffic Stop is Unconstitutional

Posted on in Traffic Law

traffic stop, Skokie criminal defense attorneyThe U.S. Constitution gives all of us a number of rights that we tend to take for granted. One of the most important rights is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that law enforcement has to have a reason before they stop you in your car.

Legal Requirements to Make a Traffic Stop

A law enforcement officer must have a reason for pulling you over. The law requires that the police have probable cause to believe that you have violated the law. Probable cause means the police have to have more of a reason than past experience or a gut feeling when pulling someone over.

The police can pull you over for a minor traffic violation. If, after speaking with you, they discover evidence of more serious criminal activity, they can investigate further.

When the police do not have a legitimate reason for making a traffic stop it is called a pretext stop.

When the Police Have the Law Wrong

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement officers are allowed to make mistakes about the law and still conduct a proper traffic stop. This means that so long as the officer made a reasonable mistake, they can pull you over for something that was not actually illegal, and that any evidence of other crimes that they found after the mistaken stop can still be used in court.

What Happens If the Stop Was Improper?

When the police make a stop without probable cause or when officer's mistake about the law was not reasonable, the traffic stop is unconstitutional. A judge is required to throw out any evidence that the police obtained through the improper stop.

Criminal defense lawyers have the job of bringing issues of police misconduct to the judge’s attention through motions to suppress evidence. These motions can be difficult to win, but they are an important part of the criminal justice system. The defense has the burden of proof of showing that the stop was a pretext stop and was unconstitutional.

If you have been accused of a crime, even if you haven’t yet been charged, you need to speak with a tough and skilled Lake County criminal defense lawyer. Do not talk to anyone about your case until you have talked to a lawyer. If the police wish to question you, you have a right to have a lawyer present. Call today to schedule a consultation.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ChapterID=54&ActID=1966

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