Philadelphia Criminal Law News

Traffic Stop Leads to False Arrest and Lawsuit

What do you do if you're faced with a traffic stop and you didn't do anything wrong?

This holiday season, with the abundance of police officers on the road, this is a question sure to be asked by many. A Pennsylvania man learned the hard way that cops aren't always so cooperative.

Reginald Johnson is now filing a lawsuit against the Seaford Police Department, according to NBC Philadelphia. The lawsuit arose after he was arrested when police officers believed him to be another person, namely, a wanted felon. According to WBOC News, a police tracking device went off as Johnson drove by the officers.

Johnson’s suit alleges that the two officers violated his rights in a traffic stop in 2011.

In his case, the lawsuit is a civil one, revolving around a case of mistaken identity. But arrests can nevertheless be contested, even if the person arrested is found to be involved in a crime.

Arrests must follow certain procedures and if the procedures aren’t followed, there can be a case of wrongful arrest or a violation of civil liberties and due process. These claims are ones that many criminal defense lawyers are well aware of, as they appear frequently in criminal cases, particularly at the appeals level.

In Johnson’s case, he entire incident was caught on Dash Cam, reports NBC. That’s great news for him, as he has documentation of his entire encounter. In many cases, the “he-said-she-said” claims don’t go very far for the defendant, but a Dash Cam is solid evidence.

In the video, Johnson cries out in pain as he is hit with the gun. The video also shows officers making jokes, saying “somebody drop the dope in here.”

Officers later admitted that Johnson was not the man they were seeking.

On a traffic stop, there are a few key points to remember. To begin with, you have rights. You have the right not to consent to a vehicle search. You have the right to remain silent. And you have the right not to have excessive force used against you.

If convicted, an improper arrest can be used on appeal if evidence admitted at trial was obtained from an improper arrest. So if stopped, keep track of how you are treated and keep track of what goes on. It could one day save your neck.

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