Wesley Chappel criminal defense attorneys are often asked about a pretextual stop, since this topic is so discussed on the news and the multitude of criminal justice shows on cable TV. In short, a pretextual stop is essentially where law enforcement officers stop an individual for a minor infraction, based on the law enforcement officers “gut feeling” that the individual is involved in some more serious offense, like possessing a firearm and/or drugs. Many individuals are very critical of pretextual stops because they believe they lead to law enforcement targeting certain minorities or types of people because of crime statistics or their mere presence in a high crime area.
In Wren v. United States, the United States Supreme Court essentially upheld a pretextual stop because at the end of the day, the basis of the stop was still valid, it was still a good traffic stop in the eyes of the court. This holding is significant, because it was the court saying that, as long as law enforcement has a valid reason, or basis to stop a vehicle, their intentions aren’t too terribly important. For example, an individual can explain they were being targeted for their car, neighborhood, and/or race, but if they run a stop sign, law enforcement is still entitled to conduct a traffic stop.
In the Tampa Bay area, many individuals argue that law enforcement’s increased interest in seatbelt violations and/or individual’s rolling stop signs, is related more to pretextual stops, in high crime areas, than in truly policing for those traffic violations. This is further supported by law enforcement officers often choosing not to issue tickets for these minor traffic violations. Regardless of your thoughts on the matter, seatbelt violations are one of the leading causes of individuals being stopped in high crime areas, and few individuals are actually cited for their alleged violation. More often than not, folks’ cars are searched based solely on this traffic violation.
If you have questions, or believe you were a victim of a pretextual stop, contact the Wesley Chapel criminal defense attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. We’ve handled thousands of criminal cases throughout the entire Tampa Bay area, and will sit down with you to determine an aggressive strategy to ensure your rights are protected. If you would like to contact one of our Wesley Chapel criminal defense attorneys immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper righthand corner of our website. Further, if you’d to contact one of our Wesley Chapel criminal defense attorneys immediately, please use the “chat box” in the lower righthand corner of our website. This chat box will give you the opportunity to contact one of our attorneys immediately, and we can begin discussing an aggressive strategy to protect your rights. We appreciate you taking the time to check out our Wesley Chapel criminal defense attorney blog, and look forward to working with you in the future.