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Criminal Defense Attorneys in Janesville, WI

Traffic Stops

Traffic Stops Defense Attorneys in Janesville, WI

Criminal Defense Lawyer for Traffic Stops?

While the vast majority of those pulled over are not transporting drugs, this has not prevented intrusive searches of vehicles or other violations of basic rights of innocent persons. Because being stopped by the police at some point in your life is highly likely, it is very important to know your rights and responsibilities.

If You Are Stopped:


*Present license, registration, and proof of insurance.

*Know your rights. Just because the police ask to search your car, you don’t have to allow them to. You may politely, but firmly, say no, repeatedly if necessary.

*Find out why you were stopped and avoid unnecessary conversation not related to the specifics of the violation for which you were stopped.

*Don’t argue. If you refuse to let them search, police may try to detain you by the road and search without your consent. In addition, you may ask questions about what is happening and why. It is unwise to be contentious.

*When the officer returns your drivers license, you may ask, “Am I free to leave?” If you are NOT free to leave, ask why you are under arrest, or why you are not free to leave.

*Take names. Most noteworthy, if you believe the police have violated your rights, write down information such as their names, badge numbers and license plate numbers.

Remember you have a right to:

*Know why you were stopped. First and foremost, this should be the first question you ask.

*Decline to answer questions and avoid conversation beyond identifying yourself. More specifically, you have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. Don’t wait for the police to read your rights to you. In addition, anything you say can be used against you or cause further suspicion and interrogation.


*Tape record the interaction with or without the officer’s knowledge.*Know the name and/or ID” of the officer(s).

*If you are arrested you have the right to know why.

If you are arrested or taken to a police station:

You have the right to remain silent and to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Above all, you must cooperate with the booking procedure, but avoid unnecessary conversation. Next, tell the police nothing except your name, address and basic information that’s on your drivers license. Don’t give explanations, excuses or stories. Afterwards, you can make your defense in court based on what you and your lawyer decide is best. While you have an opportunity, ask for a lawyer immediately and say, “I’m asserting my 5th and 6th Amendment Rights.” If you can’t pay for a lawyer, you have a right to a free one, and should ask the police how the lawyer can be contacted. Do not talk without a lawyer present.

Tips to remember:

*A 1996 Supreme Court decision allows police to stop cars for traffic violations, even if the purpose of the stop is to search for weapons or drugs. You may be stopped for a dusty license plate or some other minor vehicle violation. In addition, the officer may think you look like a drug courier and he/she wants to check you out. While doing so, they may run you through some questions while analyzing your responses and behavior to see if any “indicators” show up suggesting that you may be carrying drugs.

Violation Needed

*According to the law, police need to see a violation in order to make a stop, although there are widespread reports of people being stopped for a violation which did not occur.*Police need a “probable cause” to engage in a search without your consent. If the police have a probable cause, they have the right to search without your consent and they don’t need to ask for your permission. The Constitution protects you from warrantless searches, but when you consent to a search you give up that protection. Once you give consent, you are authorizing a complete search of everything, including your vehicle, luggage and person. This may include taking your car apart while you wait in the patrol car.

Probable Cause

*Probable cause regarding the search of a vehicle exists only “when the facts known to the officer would lead a person of ordinary care and prudence to entertain an honest and strong suspicion that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime” (if the driver is arrested, the vehicle can be searched).

*An officer may approach your vehicle and inform you that he/she smells marijuana to simply test your reaction and get you to consent to a search to prove your innocence.

*The only information the driver is required to give an officer is the basic identifying information that’s on your drivers license and proof of vehicle insurance. Therefore, any other information is not necessary and may complicate the stop, causing you to be detained longer.

*Police may question passengers, but passengers who are not violating a law or suspected of a crime are not required to give their name or answer questions or “engage in any consensual conversation” with the officer.

When You Can Leave

*At the moment your license and registration are returned, you are technically free to leave. In the eyes of the law, the traffic stop is over. At this point, any further conversation with the officer, including answering more questions, is considered consensual, so be aware. As a result, this is a good time to ask if you are free to leave, and make your entry back onto the road.

*Typical questions you are not required to answer: Where are you going? Where are you traveling from? What do you plan to do there? What do you do for a living? Do you happen to have any weapons or illegal drugs in the car?

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To get a free consultation or for general questions about a possible case please don't hesitate to call us at 608-756-4994. We also offer off-site, weekend and evening appointments upon request.

We are located at

23 West Milwaukee St., Suite 300 Janesville, WI 53548 We serve Rock, Dane, Green, and Lafayette Counties.

608 756 4994

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