Can the police pull over people without a reason and arrest them?
Police reports often describe an officer’s initial contact with a citizen as a consensual encounter. These so-called consensual encounters sometimes result in searches of the person or car and ultimately in arrests. Louisiana recognizes three kinds of contact with law enforcement: • Consensual contacts • Investigatory stops • Arrests A “consensual contact” is one when where the police’s target willingly either talks with police officers or let’s then into their home or vehicle, without either an arrest or search warrant. Consensual encounters are just a pretext used by the police to fish for some admission or statement or behavior that provides the police with enough probable cause to search and arrest the citizen.
Police officers have no right to detain anyone for investigation without a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity by the citizen. However, a “consensual encounter” strategy is used to have a “casual conversation” with a target. What is really consensual about most contacts with law enforcement? Law enforcement officers carry guns, have powers of arrest, and are often accompanied by other armed and physically intimidating members of their force. Citizens are generally unarmed, taught to respect or fear authority, and are almost always alone when these contacts take place. How consensual can the encounter be in the face of authority? What can you do if caught up in such an encounter? Tips for handling a “consensual contact”…
• Be polite — Do not act rudely, threaten to sue the department or become verbally abusive.
• Say no — If a police officer asks for permission to search you or your car, calmly and politely deny them permission — and keep saying no if the question is asked more than once.
• Dont Panic — Don’t try to run away and don’t physically obstruct or resist the police officer.
• Don’t lie — You have the right to remain silent, so simply tell the officer you do not want to speak to him or her without your attorney present.
• Ask if you are free to leave — If you are not being detained or under arrest, then calmly walk away.
Remember, this newsletter is not intended as legal advice; instead we seek to provide you with a general idea of what can happen during the legal process.
If you or a loved one has been stopped by the police and you think there might be legal consequences steaming from the encounter with the police, call us, we are here to help you. An initial consultation regarding your case is FREE.