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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    3

    Default Probable Cause for Traffic Stop

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: Pennsylvania

    A police officer followed me home from a gas station the other night. He followed me through an intersection, at the bottom of which is an alley; I turned right down the alley and proceeded to pull into my drive way. The officer did not follow me down the alley.

    Thinking all was well, I went into my house; looked around the kitchen for some food. After a few minutes of searching I noticed a flashlight shining in the window of my car. It was around 10:20-10:30 and I was home alone, so I was a bit frightened.

    I went back outside, and yelled "hello!". To which someone replied "is this your vehicle?" I asked why? And the person in my driveway, now shining the flashlight into my eyes, asked me again; so i said yes. He then asked me if I had just been driving it, i aksed why; he asked me again so I said yes.

    At this point he lowered the flashlight and I could see it was a police officer. He asked me about an "open container" in my car, which I showed him was an empty flip-top bottle. He said that it was pretty cool. Then he told me my registration was expired and asked me for my info, license, insurance etc. He wrote me a ticket.

    On the ticket it states that the infraction took place at Broadway and Turbot Ave. Those streets are in front of my house.

    My question is, why didn't he pull me over? He followed me for about a mile and a half, and did not follow me into the alley behind my house or my driveway. He did have probable cause to pull me over, but did he have probable cause to come on my property and write a citation several minutes after I was inside my house?

    Yes, the police can come on your property. I know that. Can they write tickets for parked vehicles on your property?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,728

    Default Re: Probable Cause for Traffice Stop

    well, if you were following a car in the night and the guy you were following pulled down an alley, do you think you might find a way to approach the vehicle and occupant without getting caught in some sort of possible ambush? Since he saw you pull into your drive, he simply found a way to approach the situation that was safe for him as he knew where you were.

    Can they write tickets for parked vehicles on your property?
    I don't know if you can in PA for an offense such as expired registration if the car is on the property (some states can and do) but he can write a citation for what he observed on the street. He can wait as long as he wants as long as it is within the applicable statute of limitations which I am sure is longer than a few minutes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    3

    Default Re: Probable Cause for Traffice Stop

    Well, I find it hard to believe he was trying to avoid an "ambush." Its a well lit alley, next to a retirement center. There were even employees outside smoking at the time. If he was trying to avoid an ambush then shouldn't he have called for back up before coming onto my property (without his lights on for that matter) by himself?

    He had ample time to pull me over before I turned in the alley as well.

    Did he just think my registration was expired? Hence pulling into my driveway later to check and run my plates?



    Here's where it happened on google earth...

  4. #4
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Probable Cause for Traffice Stop

    There were even employees outside smoking at the time.
    or friends of yours intending on ambushing him.

    this is really simple.

    He saw you driving on a public road. Whether he knew it at the time, was waiting for information from his dispatch, or later learned of the expired registration, he did not thing illegal and nothing that would affect the validity of the ticket you were given.

    There is no "home free".

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    3

    Default Re: Probable Cause for Traffice Stop

    Quote Quoting jk
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    or friends of yours intending on ambushing him.

    this is really simple.

    He saw you driving on a public road. Whether he knew it at the time, was waiting for information from his dispatch, or later learned of the expired registration, he did not thing illegal and nothing that would affect the validity of the ticket you were given.

    There is no "home free".

    Correct, there is no home free. I am completely aware of that.

    However, as far as I know this comes into play when they follow you home and pull you over in your drive way. That did not happen in this case.

    Authority of Police Officer.—Whenever a police officer is engaged in a systematic program of checking vehicles or drivers or has reasonable suspicion that a violation of this title is occurring or has occurred, he may stop a vehicle, upon request or signal, for the purpose of checking the vehicle’s registration, proof of financial responsibility, vehicle identification number or engine number or the driver’s license, or to secure such other information as the officer may reasonably believe to be necessary to enforce the provisions of this title. (Commonwealth v Gleason)

    He did not request me to stop, or signal me to stop. In fact, this idea of not being able to get home free really only pertains to DUI investigations. Had this been a DUI investigation, I had time to go inside and consume alcohol; thus convicting me of a DUI would have been impossible.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Probable Cause for Traffice Stop

    iwoodcock;522669]Correct, there is no home free. I am completely aware of that.

    However, as far as I know this comes into play when they follow you home and pull you over in your drive way. That did not happen in this case.
    apparently you don't know that because that is exactly what you are trying to argue.

    again: there is no home free rule.

    Authority of Police Officer.—Whenever a police officer is engaged in a systematic program of checking vehicles or drivers or has reasonable suspicion that a violation of this title is occurring or has occurred, he may stop a vehicle, upon request or signal, for the purpose of checking the vehicle’s registration, proof of financial responsibility, vehicle identification number or engine number or the driver’s license, or to secure such other information as the officer may reasonably believe to be necessary to enforce the provisions of this title. (Commonwealth v Gleason)

    He did not request me to stop, or signal me to stop. In fact, this idea of not being able to get home free really only pertains to DUI investigations. Had this been a DUI investigation, I had time to go inside and consume alcohol; thus convicting me of a DUI would have been impossible.
    no, the home free rule doesn't apply to DUI busts either. Your actions can affect the results if the cop does not take proper action but in itself, it is not a get out of jail card. Given the time frame involved, you could have sucked down all the booze you wanted and if the cop took appropriate actions, you are still going to get a DUI that sticks.


    notice, in the citation you provided, it says MAY. It doesn't say must or shall.

    Like I said, the cop could have mailed you a ticket as long as it was within the applicable SOL. In many states, that is a year. Haven't checked yours because it is irrelevant.

    You have two defenses as I see it:

    1. the ticket was in error
    2. you can argue it wasn't you driving

    either one applicable?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    3,835

    Default Re: Probable Cause for Traffice Stop

    Quote Quoting iwoodcock
    View Post

    He did have probable cause to pull me over, but did he have probable cause to come on my property and write a citation several minutes after I was inside my house?
    Since he did not pull you over or "seize" your vehicle, normal seizure law does not apply. If it did, only a "reasonable suspicion" a violation of law has taken place is necessary, whether the offense is classified as a crime, infraction, violation, summary offense (as they have in PA) or any other title. Now, this may be state specific as far as an unlicensed driver, as we have discussed on the board, some states require there be a belief the person driving is actually the person suspended and not a guest driver.

    Since no seizure occured, we address the other encounter. At this point, a violation of law took place, and the encounter with you was contemporaneous with the offense.

    Since you came out of the home, the initial meeting was consensual, if you will. Once the Q's started, and he ID'd himself as an officer, then you were basically seized, but constitutionally, IMO.

    Yes, the police can come on your property. I know that. Can they write tickets for parked vehicles on your property?
    They just can't come on your property and just look in your car windows. Issuing a summons/citation is not the same as an arrest, nor is a warrant required to enter the property to serve it. Here, the purpose was to conduct either a further investigation and or he had the intent to write one already, Constitutionally proper, IMO.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    CT & IL
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    Default Re: Probable Cause for Traffice Stop

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post

    There is no "home free".
    Bummer .... the OP never should have agreed to answer any questions or go outside ... went outside & got "scared" .. oh my

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