A story was posted in the Austin American Statesman about a gentleman who was pulled over for running a red light, told to step out of his vehicle, and eventually arrested. There is some mention of the officer thinking that the driver looked nervous, and that he saw what he thought to be drugs.
How does this happen?
In our society, we have given police officers a set of rules to work by. Those rules have changed through case law. Every Attorney that has studied Criminal Law has spent some time going over Searches and Seizures. This training is a little difficult to completely explain, partly because there are lots of nuances, and any effort to explain it here would have to be predicated by a warning that the explanation is subject to change. The law is a growing and changing thing. It is much easier to talk about specific circumstances.
In this specific circumstance, the officers actions, while looking to be excessive, are within his rights. The more interesting issue is to look into how often things like this occur. In this case, the driver was a male, on probation. That male did nothing wrong apart from possibly committing a traffic violation. It did not stop the male from going to jail, and it did not prevent his car from being towed away. If you watch the video, it is also very apparent that the officers seemed to know that they would find something illegal in the car. Why is that?
It is important to note that you are not Innocent until proven guilty on the street. You are only innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. This person, if asked “have you ever been arrested”, will have to say YES. Even though he looked to be on probation, and would already have been arrested, it doesn’t take away that this incident made his arrest record just a little bit longer. This can happen to anyone.
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