Arrests Accompanied by Minor Traffic Violations

Many individuals arrested in Utah are first pulled over for avoidable traffic violations.

A felony with an infraction on the side

If someone makes a driving error in the presence of a police officer they will usually get pulled over and issued a warning or a ticket. Once stopped by police for a minor traffic violation, police may then find valid reasons to arrest the driver. Police booking reports around the state show a pattern of criminal charges accompanied by infractions from simple traffic stops. Some common examples seen include:

Photo by: Chris Yarzab

• An individual arrested for a DUI while also being listed as having an infraction such as speeding.

• Someone charged with drug possession along with an infraction for not signaling while switching lanes or turning.

• A driver arrested for a weapons charge and a minor charge for no license plate light.

• Another person with warrants who is also charged with not fully stopping at a stop sign.

Happenstance or a planned stop

When someone is pulled over for a traffic stop, sometimes the officer has no idea the person was or is in the process of committing crimes likely to lead to an arrest. Other times however, the office may have a hunch about a driver and tails their car until they make a mistake, at which point the officer has a reason to pull them over to follow up on their gut feeling.

Possible profiling

If someone is followed by police prior to being pulled over for a traffic violation, it may feel unfair to the driver and depending on the circumstances, could be considered a form of profiling. Anyone facing criminal charges following a traffic stop is encouraged to seek legal counsel. If concerns arise regarding possible profiling or violations of constitutional rights, an experience defense attorney will know best how to handle the legal proceedings.

Chatty Officer May Actually be performing a Consensual Encounter

Meeting a chatty police officer could mean nothing more than they are approachable or talkative; however Utah residents are warned to use caution as a presumably friendly conversation with police could actually be consensual encounter.

Local festivities

Photo by: Johnny Silvercloud

Communities around Utah are joining together for a slew of holiday festivities tomorrow that guarantee to bring in larger crowds than normal. These large crowds necessitate cities to increase the amount of law enforcement on duty. As everyone- both young and old, rich or poor, normal citizen or officer, come together to celebrate a commonality, it is not unusual for Utah residents to strike up conversations with one another. Unfortunately, as law enforcement on duty continues to perform their job while spending time in the community, they will often use simple conversations as consensual encounters.

Consensual encounter

A consensual encounter is a tactic used by law enforcement to obtain information from a person without having reasonable suspicion to do so. If an officer wants to investigate a person but has not identified a viable reason to do so yet, they may do nothing more than visit with the person for a short while.

Consensual Encounter

Photo by: D_M_D

A consensual encounter does not violate a citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights as it is nothing more than an encounter that ends in a conversation and at no time is the person detained or otherwise unable to leave. It is considered a consensual encounter as long as the officer kept their questioning short and simple and refrained from:

• Drawing their weapon;
• Placing someone in handcuffs;
• Turning on police lights or sirens;
• Physically detaining a person;
• Blocking someone with a patrol vehicle; or
• Speaking with force or intimidation.

Terry stop vs arrest

Photo by: David Poe

If any of the above points end up taking place during a consensual encounter, it then becomes either an investigatory stop or an arrest. An investigatory stop, otherwise known as a Terry stop takes place if a person is detained briefly by law enforcement. In order to perform a Terry stop officers must have a reasonable suspicion that the person has been or is currently involved in criminal activity. This can include instances such as if illegal contraband is in plain view or if police have a hunch the person is armed and dangerous and wish to do a brief pat-down. Terry stop often consist of traffic stops and are to be no longer than 20 minutes. If the officer either has a warrant or develops probable cause during a Terry stop, then an arrest is made. An arrest is a more formal detainment such as being handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol vehicle and this act should always be preceded by the Miranda Warning.

Questionable stops

All residents are advised to be aware about the possibility of increased consensual encounters during the festivities tomorrow. Anyone who feels they have been unjustly questioned or detained by police during a consensual encounter and are now facing criminal charges, it is encouraged to speak to a defense attorney who will ensure their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searched and seizures are protected.