As a highly contested topic in criminal law, search and seizure, or “stop and search,” relates to encounters between citizens and law enforcement. At any point, if the stop or the search is carried out illegally, any evidence found is essentially no good. Thus, it’s easy to see why individuals that are arrested may question or dispute the legality of search and seizure, particularly if any questionable evidence is discovered.
Perhaps the best way to classify search and seizure is by understanding the types of encounters citizens have with police.
First Tier Encounters
Also regarded as a casual encounter, a first tier encounter might involve an officer approaching someone on the street, asking him or her a question. In the same way, a citizen might walk up to an officer in a parking lot and strike up a conversation. If approached by a policeman, it’s important to understand that you are not obligated to speak with them. You can choose to walk away. However, suppose you are detained, searched, and an officer found drugs. If they arrest you, there’s a good chance that your case would be dismissed. Why? First, the encounter was a first tier encounter. Second, you exercised your right not to speak.
Second Tier Encounters
In order for a second tier encounter to take place, an officer must have a trained suspicion that an individual is breaking the law or is about the break the law. This is called Reasonable Articulable Suspicion. One example of a second tier encounter is when an officer observes a vehicle swerving on and off of the road, or driving in a manner which leads them to believe that the driver might be under the influence. In this case, the driver can be pulled over and held briefly while the officer asks questions or conducts a pat down. If anything is mentioned during the encounter that provides the officer with reason to make an arrest, he/she can do so.
Third Tier Encounters
While a reasonable suspicion is required for a second tier encounter, a third tier encounter occurs when an officer has probable cause to believe that a person is committing a crime. Using the same example as above, if the driver of the swerving vehicle is pulled over, and the officer detects the odor or alcohol or drugs when approaching the vehicle, this is considered probable cause to search the vehicle.
Given the types of encounters discussed and the legalities associated with search and seizure, it is imperative to consult an attorney with experience and understanding in order to protect your legal interests in Georgia. If you are looking for an attorney that will treat your concern seriously and advance your position under the law, contact M. Qader A. Baig & Associates, LLC today. You’ll be glad that you did.
Posted on behalf of M. Qader A. Baig & Associates, LLC
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M. Qader A. Baig & Associates, LLC
Conyers, GA 30012
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