Q:  How should I conduct myself when I am stopped by a law enforcement officer?

A:  First and foremost, be polite and cooperative.  Remember, officers put their lives on the line everytime they stop a driver; all of whom are strangers to the officer.  

Q:  Is it a good idea to speak to a law enforcement officer, especially if I am innocent; and want to be cooperative?

A:  My earnest advice, after 30 years of defending adults and juveniles accused of crimes from murder to disturbing the peace, is to exercise your Miranda Rights and remain silent.  This cannot be emphasized enough!!  A high percentage of cases which I have been involved in would not have been filed or prosecuted if the suspect had remained silent.

Q:  Is it possible for my traffic citation to get dismissed on a technicality? 

A:  Yes.  You should really inspect the contents of the citation.  Although officers are trained and experience, they are also human and make mistakes.  Depending on the type of error(s), you may have enough ammunition to obtain a dismissal.  DO NOT discuss anything you may have noticed is an error with the officer; he could make corrections to your citation right before your very eyes; otherwise the officer would be required by law to send you proof of any corrections he/she makes prior to your court hearing.  Remember, as a defendant, you have a right to the benefit of any reasonable doubt!


1.  A law enforcement officer does not have to read a person their Miranda Rights unless and until that individual has been deprived of their freedom (in a significant way).

2.  Miranda Rights only have to be read to an individual prior to questioning.  The bottom line:  Answers can only be used in a court of law as evidence against a person if he/she receives their Miranda Rights.

3.  Anything said to the police spontaneously (unsolicited - i.e. an excited utterance) before they have an opportunity to read a person their rights, CAN BE USED against that person in court.  Also, if police question a person preliminarily (i.e. - referring to a recent robbery, and that individual replies saying something along the lines of "I know one of the robbers"), those words may come back to haunt them.

4.  An individual should always exercise Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer any questions.  This is not considered as "interfering" with an officer or obstructing justice.  In other words, generally speaking, a person cannot be charged with a crime.  (Note:  Be aware of the offense of Loitering; a person may be charged with a crime if the officer has "probable cause" to believe, based upon one's actions, that individual may be a threat to public safety).  

5.  Most importantly, whether or not someone is a "person of interest" or a "suspect," you should consult with an attorney and follow his or her advice!!

6.  When an individual is stopped for a traffic violation, although he/she may refuse to speak, they do need to be cooperative by supplying a driver's license, registration and insurance information.  Having a license to drive a motor vehicle is a privilege, and not a right!  A person may be facing a more serious offense if they fail to cooperate with law enforcement.

7.  The legal theory of Fruit of the Poisonous Tree:  The negative consequences to the prosecution is that any information received, illegally, CANNOT be used as evidence against a Defendant.  Also, evidence discovered by law enforcement as a result of illegally obtained information, is likewise, not admissible in court.

8.  Any statement given to law enforcement as a result of coercion or intimidation (and not given voluntarily), is also deemed to be inadmissible in a court of law.

My office may be able to obtain favorable results for you! I have been in practice for over 35 years, and have a very high success rate ! Please contact our office today for a FREE case evaluation at (760) 326-LAWS (5297) or (702) 817-4661 - Call Anytime !

Felicia Woods-Yates, 
Attorney at Law

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