Any rights in our car? US Supreme Court Says No!

A recent case by the US Supreme Court has again reduced the amount of law the police officers are required to actually know in order to pull a vehicle over for a traffic violation. In December of 2014, the Supreme Court decided Heien v. North Carolina, where they took it on themselves to change the way we view the 4th Amendment, the police, and our believe that officers must educate themselves when enforcing the law.

The Court found that if an officer makes a mistake in the law, then the officer can conduct a search under the Fourth Amendment.  The Court stated that “the Fourth Amendment allows for some mistakes on the part of government officials, giving them “fair leeway for enforcing the law in the community’s protection.”

In Heien, a police officer stopped a vehicle because one of its two brake lights was out, but a single working brake light is all the law required under North Carolina law. The Supreme Court held that a mistake of law was reasonable, thereby giving the officer reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle.

It was decided long ago that police may make mistakes of fact, as long as it is reasonable.  For example, if an officer mistakenly believes someone gave consent to search a vehicle, but that person did not have authority to consent, then the evidence obtained from the search can be used against the defendant. Another example would include a situation where an officer made a mistake and arrested the wrong person. The arrest would be reasonable, although it is a seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

However, the new decision has broadened the scope of the police officer’s reach when it comes to officer mistakes.  Under the new ruling, the Supreme Court has taken more of our rights away under the Fourth Amendment. Now, incompetent officers may conduct “lawful” searches and seizures even when officers should be held to a standard higher than the average person when it comes to knowing the law.  If police officers do not know the law, then how are they allowed to enforce it?

Clearly, this new case has again weakened the Fourth Amendment by allowing officers to disregard learning the law in exchange for citizens to be subject to unreasonable searches and seizures. Seeing that there are approximately one hundred million traffic stops each year, we are all subjected to the new standard of police making not only mistakes of fact, but making mistakes in law where we believe officers will only pull us over when we committed a crime, not laws that are capricious and arbitrary.

And remember, once the police have initiated a traffic stop, it is easy for them to broaden their investigation, including a warrantless search of our vehicles. Therefore, if you are pulled over, don't talk and don't consent to a search of your vehicle.

If you have been wrongly accused of committing a traffic offense, contact an attorney to determine if you actually broke any laws.  Obviously, just because the officer said you did does not make it the case any longer. See our traffic section for more information on how to fight your traffic ticket.

Posted on
April 20, 2015
in
Fresno Traffic Law Posts
category
4th Amendment and traffic tickets, car stops, did I break the law, Fresno traffic stops, police don't know the law, traffic stops in Fresno, unreasonable stops by police

SR-22 Auto Insurance after Fresno DUI

A criminal lawyer can determine if you need a SR-22 insurance for your car after a DUI arrest and DMV hearing in Fresno.
Traffic
Tina Barberi, DUI and criminal lawyer in Fresno will fight to win your criminal and DUI case.
Tina M. Barberi
March 16, 2015
What is an SR-22 and do you need it? If your license is suspended because of a DUI, you will be required to have an SR-22 before a license is issued. But you may avoid the SR-22 requirement by reading this post first.

What You Need to Avoid When You Get a Traffic Ticket

Fresno police officers will cite you for a suspended license and tow your car, costing you thousands. Save money, call a traffic lawyer now.
Traffic
Tina Barberi, DUI and criminal lawyer in Fresno will fight to win your criminal and DUI case.
Tina M. Barberi
July 7, 2015
Suspended licenses are very serious in Fresno and it is important to avoid them at all costs. Learn how to keep your license before it gets suspended and find out how we can help you get it back when it is already suspended.

Can I Pay My Fine in Pennies? Legally Weird

Don't pay your ticket without talking to a traffic ticket lawyer. A speeding traffic ticket can be won with the right attorney.
Traffic
Tina Barberi, DUI and criminal lawyer in Fresno will fight to win your criminal and DUI case.
Tina M. Barberi
August 18, 2015
Have you really had it with the police and courts and want to play a prank by paying with pennies? If so, think again. Learn why it is not a good idea and the real tips on how to stick it to the police officer and the courts.

DUIs and DMV Help: Save My Driver's License!

DMV hearings are complicated and without an attorney, you can lose your license for a long time. Call an experienced DUI lawyer today.
Traffic
Tina Barberi, DUI and criminal lawyer in Fresno will fight to win your criminal and DUI case.
Tina M. Barberi
September 16, 2015
Have you been arrested for a DUI lately? If so, read this important information regarding DMV hearings and how they are separate from your criminal court matter. Contacting DMV to request a DMV hearing can help you - see how.

Who Let the Dogs Out? National Dog Day!

Dogs are the best, especially on National Dog Day, even when I am reading the law books at Tina Barberi's law firm
Our Firm
If you are arrested for DUI, get the best legal defense with help from Jeanne Slaven.
Jeanne Slaven
August 26, 2015
Hooray, today is National Dog Day! We love our four-legged friends and want to show our special thanks for the love they always give us. Meet our best friends and then tell your special pooch how much they mean to you as well.

Saving Lives: Protecting Patients with Marijuana

Drug and marijuana cases can be fought when you have the right criminal law attorney in Fresno. Free consult to discuss your case.
Criminal
DUI defense lawyer enlists Gonzalo Quezada for clients accused of DUI, criminal or traffic charges.
Gonzalo Quezada
October 6, 2015
Questions on medical marijuana in the state of California? See what the problems with production and transportation of medical marijuana in the state and see what you can do to protect yourself as a user and patient.

Don't Press Your Luck This Saint Patrick's Day!

Drunk driving on March 17 is dangerous and you will likely be arrested if you are pulled over by Fresno police officers.
DUI
If you are arrested for DUI, get the best legal defense with help from Jeanne Slaven.
Jeanne Slaven
March 16, 2015
Have some green beer and relax this Saint Patrick's Day. There is no need to drive this year. Check out this new app that will keep you save as well as out of jail. With this app, you can count your lucky stars by not driving.

Visit the Law Offices of Tina M. Barberi, PC

Fresno criminal, DUI, and traffic attorney, Tina M. Barberi, is dedicated to your case. Call today to find out how we can help you.
Our Firm
If you are arrested for DUI, get the best legal defense with help from Jeanne Slaven.
Jeanne Slaven
April 8, 2015
We are committed to helping persons that are accused of criminal or DUI charges in Fresno County. If you need help on a criminal case, stop by and discuss your case for free. We are here to help and will work hard for you.

SR-22 Auto Insurance after Fresno DUI

A criminal lawyer can determine if you need a SR-22 insurance for your car after a DUI arrest and DMV hearing in Fresno.
Traffic
Tina Barberi, DUI and criminal lawyer in Fresno will fight to win your criminal and DUI case.
Tina M. Barberi
March 16, 2015
What is an SR-22 and do you need it? If your license is suspended because of a DUI, you will be required to have an SR-22 before a license is issued. But you may avoid the SR-22 requirement by reading this post first.

Police Body Cameras May Not Protect You on Mother's Day.

Mother's Day is popular day for DUI arrests in Fresno, California. Contact DUI lawyer today.
DUI
Tina Barberi, DUI and criminal lawyer in Fresno will fight to win your criminal and DUI case.
Tina M. Barberi
May 9, 2017
What you may not know about police body cameras and their failure to protect us this Mother's Day. Find out what police are NOT doing with their body cameras and how to protect yourself if you are pulled over for DUI.

10 Things You May Not Know about Criminal & DUI Charges.

DUI complaints, criminal complaints, and traffic citations are all ways to charge you with a crime. Fight back with a Fresno lawyer.
Criminal
Tina Barberi, DUI and criminal lawyer in Fresno will fight to win your criminal and DUI case.
Tina M. Barberi
May 7, 2015
The criminal justice system is very complex. Here are the 10 things you need to know to defend yourself in court, including frequently asked questions that will help you when you are facing criminal charges in Fresno.

Fresno County Tough on Petty Theft Charges

Petty theft and shoplifting in Fresno will be prosecuted without having the proper criminal lawyer that understands theft charges.
Criminal
Tina Barberi, DUI and criminal lawyer in Fresno will fight to win your criminal and DUI case.
Tina M. Barberi
April 16, 2015
Have you been arrested or accused of petty theft? If so, you need to read the steps you need to take to keep from getting a petty theft conviction in Fresno County. This blog will explain the charge and how you can fight it.

You Might Also Like