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Steven A. Tomeo & Associates, LLC

An arrest can be your worst nightmare! You are stopped and then the police officer is required to treat you in an indifferent manner. He does not know you. There is the chance that you are armed and so officer safety is foremost in his mind. When he was following you and before the stop he was in his car making judgments as to determine if he could stop you. In Connecticut, he to have a reasonable articulable suspicion to make the stop. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Under the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution and article first, §§ 7 and 9, of the Connecticut state constitution, a police officer is permitted “in appropriate circumstances and in an appropriate manner” to detain an individual for investigative purposes if the officer believes, based on a “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that the individual is engaged in criminal activity, even if there is no probable cause to make an arrest. Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 330-31, 110 S.Ct. 2412, 110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990); Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 22, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968); State v. Mitchell, 204 Conn. 187, 194-95, 527 A.2d 1168, cert. denied, 484 U.S. 927, 108 S.Ct. 293, 98 L.Ed.2d 252 (1987); State v. Lamme, 216 Conn. 172, 184 (1990).

“The police officer’s decision . . . must be based on more than a hunch or speculation. . . . In justifying the particular intrusion the police officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrants that intrusion.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Wilkins, 240 Conn. 489, 496, 692 A.2d 1233 (1997). State v. Bolanos, 58 Conn. App. 365, 368-69,753 A.2d 943 (2000)

When the police officer stops you for the above reasons it is known as a Terry Stop.

USLegal.com states the following:

“A ‘Terry Stop’ is a stop of a person by law enforcement officers based upon “reasonable suspicion” that a person may have been engaged in criminal activity, whereas an arrest requires “probable cause” that a suspect committed a criminal offense. The name comes from the standards established in a 1968 case, Terry v. Ohio.

“The issue in the case was whether police should be able to detain a person and subject him to a limited search for weapons without probable cause for arrest. The Court held that police may conduct a limited search of a person for weapons that could endanger the officer or those nearby, even in the absence of probable cause for arrest, and any weapons seized may be introduced in evidence.

“When a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him or her to reasonably suspect criminal activity may be occurring and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, the officer might approach and briefly detain the subjects for the purpose of conducting a limited investigation. The officer must identify himself or herself as a police officer and may make reasonable inquiries. If after initial investigation the officer still has a reasonable fear for the safety of himself and others, the officer may conduct a carefully limited search of the outer clothing in an attempt to discover weapons that might be used to assault him or her.”

So, you can see how the law has evolved to traffic stops and how easy it is to make the initial stop. And, you may recall hearing about stop and frisk laws especially the big controversy over such a law in New York City. So now you know where the New York controversy has its genesis.

Just think about it. You may be stopped for a speeding infraction or what it is termed as “erratic driving.” And give some further thought to the scenario you are involved in: it is usually nighttime, the cop has his overhead blinking lights on, may have used his siren and his loudspeaker and you are pulled over to the side of the road. Kind of scary! You are a good person, never been in trouble, are not carrying a weapon and you are being detained because a police officer made a determination that he saw something in the way you were operating your vehicle—unusual conduct—that gives him reason to stop you. This is subjective on his part. Usually, there is no [mandatory] video recording and audio of the stop. Are we supposed to trust the police on this issue? Most if not all police cruisers have in-car video equipment and the policemen have microphones attached to them for communication purposes. Many criminologists argue for recording the stop in order to verify it was proper under the law.

From the cases, I have been involved in the vast majority of people who are stopped and then asked to get out of the car to perform the Standard Field Sobriety Tests are arrested for DUI.

After pulling you over, the police officer will come up to your car and start asking you questions. You can refuse to answer them. If you answer them, whatever you say can be used against you.

Wikipedia.com states: The case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court which passed 5–4 and is summarized as follows:

He Court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police and that the defendant not only understood these rights but voluntarily waived them.

 

STEVEN TOMEO, ESQ.

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