TULSA, Oklahoma. According to ProPublica, Jacksonville, Florida is thorough when it comes to enforcing pedestrian violations. Whether you are jaywalking, not using the sidewalk, or crossing the street on a yellow light, police officers can use a pedestrian violation to stop you. Usually they do this so that they can claim just cause to search you if they are suspicious of other crimes. The situation sounds notoriously similar to New York’s infamous stop and frisk program. While officers claim that these stops keep pedestrians safe, ProPublica found that citations weren’t being issued in areas where people were at risk of crashes, but rather in neighborhoods where those stopped were minorities, black, and poor.
These kinds of tickets, when they don’t lead to more serious charges for guns or drug possession, can cause problems of their own. When individuals cannot afford to pay the tickets, they could have the ticket be sent to aggressive debt collectors or individuals could lose their ability to renew a driver’s license.
For those who don’t carry ID, officers in Jacksonville were also found to use this as a premise to detain individuals. Officers sometimes erroneously claimed that walking without an ID was illegal.
Yet, the problem doesn’t always end there. According to the Marshall Project, when individuals speak up, they could face serious personal and professional repercussions. In the case of one law student who reported police mistreatment, he found himself facing additional police attention and scrutiny. The man was interviewed by the FBI who threatened him with reprisals if he continued to pursue his complaint against campus police. The man was told by FBI that he and his friends would face additional FBI scrutiny if he continued forward with his claims.
So what can you do if you believe you have been stopped illegally or if your civil rights have been violated? First, before you speak to police, if you are under arrest, assert your right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer. A Tulsa, Oklahoma criminal defense attorney like the Henson Law Firm, P.L.L.C. can review the circumstances of your stop and the actions of police officers.
Police officers sometimes use smaller violations as a reason to stop someone when they believe they may be in possession of drugs. However, given the prevalence of incorrect traffic stops and pedestrian stops in Jacksonville, some prosecutors are thinking twice before pursuing cases where individuals may have been wrongly stopped. However, if officers do plan to pursue a case, a drug crime lawyer like the Tulsa, Oklahoma Henson Law Firm, P.L.L.C. can work to protect your rights.
What can you do if you are stopped while walking? Assert your right to remain silent. Don’t consent to a search. And, if you are being detained, ask if you are free to go. If you are not free to go, ask if you are being arrested. If you are under arrest, you have the right to request to speak to your lawyer. Protect your rights; know your rights.