Anyone who has watched dramatizations based on law enforcement officers has likely seen a show in which an officer’s actions are based upon a “hunch.” While such action may ultimately be successful on television, it may not be in real life in Wisconsin, depending on the circumstances. In fact, a court has recently overturned a drunk driving and weapons conviction following a traffic stop that was initiated based upon assumptions made by a sheriff’s deputy.
The incident that led the the man’s arrest and subsequent conviction happened on a night in March 2017. A deputy reportedly pulled over a vehicle containing several occupants; one of the occupants, a man, reportedly ran from the scene, prompting a search. Other deputies were in the area as a result.
One of those deputies reportedly noticed a vehicle near where the initial stop occurred approximately 30 minutes later and began following it. The deputy claimed he observed the vehicle turn into a dead-end road before changing direction. Assuming that the suspect who allegedly ran from the first vehicle had called this driver to come pick him up, the deputy initiated a stop. As a result, the deputy accused the man of being intoxicated and in possession of a gun.
Though the man filed a motion to suppress evidence, his request was denied, and he pleaded no contest to the charges stemming from his arrest. However, he appealed the decision. The court ruled that there was not reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop. The judge argued that there was no evidence that either the fleeing suspect or the driver had cellphones and had been communicating with one another, that they had a relationship with one another or that someone had entered the vehicle when it pulled into the dead-end road.
Unfortunately, most people in Wisconsin without legal training who face drunk driving or other criminal charges may be unaware that their rights were violated in the events leading up to their arrest. As such, they often want an experienced criminal defense attorney on their side to help them fully understand the circumstances of their case. In some instances, an appeal may be necessary, prompting a higher court to vacate a conviction.