March 13, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- During a traffic stop, it is not rare for police officers to ask permission to search through the vehicle of the person they pulled over. While, in many circumstances, officers are required to get a search warrant or make an arrest before they can search a vehicle, this requirement is waived if the driver consents to the search.
Consenting to a search can be a risky move. A woman in Madison County, Illinois learned this lesson the hard way this winter, after she was caught with approximately $1.6 million in cash in her vehicle.
According police reports, an Illinois State Police officer pulled the woman over because of a traffic violation
and because her vehicle had an improper license plate cover. After giving the driver a warning, the trooper asked to search her vehicle. She agreed, whereupon the trooper found the cash sealed inside of 27 plastic bags.
The woman was charged with money laundering. If convicted, she could face between four and 15 years in prison. A spokesman from the Illinois State Police said that the woman is suspected of carrying the cash as part of an illegal drug trafficking
Protecting your rights during a traffic stop
Both the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois State Constitution protect the rights of people who are stopped by the police. However, in the vast majority of cases, the police aren't going to make a proactive effort to inform you of your rights.
If you are stopped by the police while in your car, here are some things you should know:
- You do have to pull over:
Even if you think you haven't done anything wrong, you have to stop. Fleeing will only make matters worse, and may even give the officer grounds to arrest you. Once you've pulled over, keep your hands on the wheel and don't retrieve anything from your glove box or your pockets until the officer asks you to. At night, turn on your car's overhead light for better safety.
- You can remain silent:
You do have to tell police your real name, address and date of birth and show a photo ID if asked. However, you do not have to answer any questions about where you came from, where you are going, what you have in the car or anything else. Simply tell the officer (politely and respectfully) that you are invoking your right to remain silent.
- You do not have to consent to a search:
If the officer asks to search your car, you are free to say no. If the officer searches your vehicle anyway, do not resist. Instead, keep saying that you do not consent to the search. You can sort out the constitutional issues with your criminal defense attorney later on if the police find something incriminating.
- You can ask to leave:
Unless you are being detained or are under arrest, you can end an encounter with the police at anytime. However, before leaving, you should ask if you are free to go. For example, if the officer asks to search your car, you can say "I do not consent to a search. Am I free to leave?".
Constitutional violations by law enforcement officials may render evidence inadmissible at trial. If you think your rights were violated during a traffic stop, talk to an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your options.
Article provided by Polinske & Associates, P.C.
Visit us at www.papc.biz---
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