Did the Police Violate My Rights?

I was walking in my hometown at night, minding my own business when a police officer stopped me and began to ask me questions, like where I was going and what I was doing. He said something about investigating a robbery that had just been reported in the area. Since it was cold my hands were in my jacket pockets and he kept telling me to take my hands out of my pockets. When I refused to answer his questions or take my hands out of my pockets he arrested me. After my arrest he patted me down and found some marijuana I my pants pocket he charged me with possession of possession of a controlled dangerous substance. As he was putting on the handcuffs he asked me where I got the marijuana and I told him because I was nervous. What are my rights? I believe the policeman violated my rights.

You have described a set of facts that sound simple but raise a number of issues. A police officer can under certain circumstances ask you questions about what you are doing. If he is investigating a crime that occurred and has a reasonable belief that you might be involved he can stop you and ask questions. The key is whether his actions are reasonable under the known circumstances. If you start talking with him and he reasonably believes you may have a weapon that might injure him he can pat you down. If he feels something that can reasonably believed to be a weapon he can try to uncover it. If it is small and soft like a small bag of marijuana he would have a difficult time proving he thought it was a weapon. If he arrested you and after that arrest asks you questions about a crime without reading your Miranda rights you may very well be able to have your statements thrown out of the case against you as well as other information or evidence that is discovered as a result of the statements you gave. It is critical to remember exactly what occurred because the facts are obviously important and a small change in what happened or when it happened can change the outcome of your case. The court always looks at “the totality of the circumstances” in making a decision whether the actions of the police were proper.

If you or someone you know needs to retain an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney, call the law firm of Pisarri, McEnroe and Careri and ask for Thomas Pisarri. We pride ourselves in responding quickly to calls from people who need questions answered and their rights protected. The telephone consultation is free.