If you have ever been pulled over by a police officer in New Jersey, you may have wondered whether the stop was legal or not, especially if the stop resulted in your arrest. And, the law is clear on traffic stops that police cannot randomly pull you over for no reason. There must be reasonable suspicion that you violated the law.
“Reasonable suspicion” is the legal standard needed to pull a person over, and the officer that pulled you over must have some specific facts or demonstrate some circumstances that lead them to reasonably believe that you were breaking the law or had already committed a crime. Hunches, guesses and gut feelings are not enough. They must be able to point to some evidence on point as well.
Examples of reasonable suspicion
There are many ways that a police officer may legally create reasonable suspicion. Perhaps, the officer witnessed erratic or dangerous driving, or some vehicle equipment violation, like a broken taillight. Car accidents can create reasonable suspicions, as can not wearing your seat belt. Of course, these are only the most common reasons.
What if there was no reasonable suspicion?
If you do not believe that there was reasonable suspicion to pull you over, you may be able to challenge your initial stop that led to your charges. That challenge, if successful, could allow for the exclusion of any evidence found during the illegal traffic stop.
For example, if you were pulled over and, as a result, you were charged with drug possession, the lack of reasonable suspicion allows you to challenge that stop as illegal. This means that the drugs found on your person were unlawfully found and should be excluded from any subsequent trial. If those drugs were the entire basis of your charge, this would likely lead to the dismissal of those charges for lack of evidence.