Can Police Pull You Over Without a Reason?

By Tedia Gamino

You could be driving home from work or an evening out when a police officer pulls you over for reasons that are unapparent to you. Many of these kinds of stops can lead to criminal charges after a search of your vehicle. But can the police pull you over without a reason?

Can Police Pull You Over Without Cause in Wisconsin?

The fact of the matter is that a police officer cannot pull you over without cause. They require reasonable suspicion in order to make a legal stop.

What Is Reasonable Suspicion When an Officer Pulls You Over?

A 2015 opinion by the Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded that any time a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that you’ve violated or are violating a traffic law, a traffic stop is justified.

Can Evidence from an Illegal Traffic Stop Be Used Against You in Court?

If a police officer didn’t have a constitutionally valid reason to pull you over, then any evidence against you stemming from an illegal search may be suppressed in court, which can lead to the dismissal of charges—even if you were arrested on drug or gun charges, for drunk driving, or any other reason. Still there are exceptions to this rule, which include the following doctrines and principles:

  • Attenuation doctrine: The attenuation doctrine means that even though evidence was obtained illegally, it may still be admissible in court if the link between the evidence and the illegal way it was obtained is adequately remote or “attenuated.”
  • Inevitable discovery: This principle allows evidence that would be suppressed—because it was obtained illegally—to be admissible in court if the State can prove that it would’ve inevitably been discovered lawfully.
  • Independent source: This is a doctrine that allows evidence that was obtained through an unlawful search, but was later independently and legally acquired, to be admissible in court.
  • Good faith doctrine: This doctrine is when a court believes that an officer acted reasonably and in good faith, given his or her circumstances.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Charges from an Illegal Traffic Stop?

If you believe you were pulled over without cause, and it resulted in a criminal charge, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your consultation with a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino