December 9, 2022
Can law enforcement stop you for no reason?
It is the job of the police to enforce the law. To do this, they have numerous powers at their disposal. However, these powers do not go without checks and balances. The liberty of citizens is also vital and this should not be interfered with unnecessarily.
Does this mean that law enforcement cannot pull you over for no reason? Or do their powers take precedence over your liberties in this scenario?
Reasonable suspicion is required
Simply put, police officers are not permitted to pull you over just because they feel like it. They must at least have a reasonable suspicion that criminality has or is occurring. So, if you run a red light, exceed the speed limit or appear to be driving erratically, law enforcement is entitled to pull you over.
Does this mean you can be arrested?
As a citizen, you have a guaranteed right to remain innocent until proven guilty. This means that a mere suspicion from law enforcement is not enough to convict you, and it’s likely not enough to even charge you. To conduct further investigations or make a lawful arrest after your traffic stop, officers must obtain probable cause. What this means is that more compelling evidence has presented itself after the initial stop. For instance, you may have gotten out of the vehicle and not been able to stand straight. You may have been slurring your words and doing everything in your power to avoid making eye contact.
Remember, the onus is on the prosecution to prove your guilt. If you’re facing criminal charges of any kind, then your best course of action is to seek some legal guidance.