As defense attorneys, we often have clients who were pulled over by an officer before they were arrested. Being pulled over is never a fun experience, but there are certain ways to behave that will ease your communication with police, keep you safe, and potentially prevent a ticket or arrest. Whenever you are pulled over, keep the perspective of the officer in mind. You may have done nothing wrong in your view, but remember that the police officer does not know who you are, or if they are approaching a dangerous person. However, if you do everything in your power to communicate that you are not a threat, your interaction with the police is likely to go a lot smoother. In this blog, we will go over some essential tips for communicating with a police officer when you have been pulled over in your car.
When The Officer Approaches…
…be aware of how your behavior is being watched. Put the car in park, roll down the window, turn off the car, and place your hands on the steering wheel so that they can be seen. Be mindful of how any quick movements may look suspicious and could be probable cause for searching your car if it looks like you are hiding something. Wait until the officer asks you for your license and registration to begin looking for them, because rifling through your glove compartment or pockets could look like you are withdrawing a weapon.
When you are pulled over, cooperate with any request from the police officer (as long as it is legal). An officer is not required by law to tell you why you are being pulled over initially. Additionally, the officer may ask for your name and address, and may request you either stay in or get out of your car. Remaining cooperative and polite throughout the interaction can only help.
Let Them Control The Conversation
It is important to not act in a way that will look suspicious to the officer, so don’t react defensively. Allow the officer to dictate the conversation. They will ask for your license and registration; if you need to reach into the glove compartment to retrieve either of these items, tell the officer first and wait for their permission. Additionally, resist the temptation to tell your side of the story. The officer may appear open to hearing your version of events, but anything you say could be incriminating and used against you in court. They may be trying to get you to confess to the crime, so don’t apologize for anything, as this is an admission of guilt.
Keep It Brief
When the officer asks you questions, do not lie, but keep it as brief as possible. When the officer asks if you know why you were pulled over, your answer should be, “No.” Keep your answers to their questions to “yes” or “no,” and don’t respond with anything substantive. Nodding and using non-committal phrases such as, “I see,” and “I understand” is the best approach. If you are concerned, you do not have to answer any questions at all. After all, if you remain silent, the officer cannot get an admission of guilt to be used in court.
Refuse A Search
If the officer asks to search your car, you should refuse. When you consent to a search, it makes it substantially more difficult to challenge any evidence they find. Also, if the officer has grounds to search your car, it will happen whether you consent or not. Generally, officers will ask for consent because they do not have legal grounds to search. The officer may pat you down for weapons should they believe you are dangerous, and may look further if they feel anything that seems to be a weapon.
Drinking And Driving
Drinking and driving is never smart, but there are ways to behave during a traffic stop that can make it worse. If you have been drinking, even if you believe you are under the legal limit, do not admit this to the officer; silence will serve you better. In South Carolina, you can refuse a field sobriety test without penalty, but it may cast suspicion on you. Additionally, if the officer asks to breathalyze or perform another chemical test on you, refusing has consequences; in the Palmetto State, your license will automatically be suspended for six months due to the Implied Consent law, which states that when you receive a driver’s license, you automatically consent to these chemical tests.
With all this in mind, a traffic stop may still not go in your favor. If you are arrested, you need legal representation for the best possible outcome in court. At The De Bruin Law Firm, we are experienced defense attorneys who may be able to help. Contact us today to learn more!
What will a criminal defense attorney do for my case?
Once I have evaluated your case I will provide you an overview of your case. This will describe among other things the criminal law process, how we will work together to navigate the criminal justice system, and what expectation I have for you as a client and what expectations you should have for me as your defense attorney.
What should my attorney do to prepare my case for trial?
I collect not only the evidence that the government is required to supply, but also gather my own evidence for your defense as well. I will talk to witnesses, look for other video from third party sources, and go to the scene of the alleged offense. I believe your case is far to important not to go the extra mile to insure we know all the facts for your case, to provide you the best possible defense.
What do I need to do to help my attorney defend me?
No one cares more about your case than you. While we prepare your case, we also prepare your for trial. The one thing we need most from you is total honesty. Remember, everything you and I talk about is confidential. I am on your side.
For Drug offense cases, we may require you to look into a rehabilitation facility. I have had client’s charged with drug crimes who unfortunately we suffering from serious addiction and needed help, not jail. When I was able to convince those clients to make the difficult decision and enter a rehabilitation facility it helped create a positive situation that made negotiating their case more favorable. Many criminal cases last over a year. If I can help get a client suffering from an addition on the path to recovery while defending them from their criminal drug charges, their future becomes much more optimistic, and often, so does their case. Changing your life prior to trial or before a plea will greatly decrease your changes of going to jail. We are here to help not only with your legal needs, but also to help you in life. We have seen success stories and want you to be one too.
How much does a criminal defense attorney cost?
Your attorney’s fees will be based on multiple things including but not limited to, the severity of the crime, the evidence against you, prior convictions, and the amount of jail time your are facing if convicted. For criminal defense services I charge my client’s a flat fee on almost all cases at the start of their case. Therefore, you know how much your case will cost on day one.
I also am aware that many people are unable to afford to pay thousands of dollars upfront. In order to better serve my clients I offer a payment plan option. If you’d like to see if you qualify for our criminal defense payment plan option please contact us by using our form, or call us directly at (864) 372-2896.
Who will handle my case?
How do you know the attorney you hire is the attorney who will represent you during the entire process? I personally guarantee that I will handle every part of your criminal case, you will not be passed of t a junior attorney.
Aaron De Bruin | Criminal Defense Attorney
For over 10 years, Aaron De Bruin has been dedicated to representing clients within the criminal justice system. Aaron is committed to relentlessly providing his clients the legal counsel they deserve during the difficult times associated with a criminal charge. He prides himself on the ability to defend his clients and constantly seek the most favorable outcome for their individual situation.
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