When Police Pull You Over, PART 2 — What You Must Do and What Your Rights Are: Advice from a Lawyer

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Matthew Maddox Latest 912-2-16

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Attorney Matthew Maddox of New Canaan

In recent months we’ve fielded a lot of questions at The Maddox Law Firm about what to do when you’re pulled over by the police. Some people are worried about police interactions. They’re worried about safety, compliance and their rights.

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— This is the first of two parts. See Part I:

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Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and our answers about what to do when you’re pulled over by police.

Question 1: “What do I say when I’m pulled over by police?”

This is pretty easy. Say as little possible. Remember that you are protected by the Fifth Amendment. You have a right to remain silent. If you’re stopped for a motor vehicle infraction, be polite, answer questions exactly as they are posed to you and don’t volunteer information.

Question 2: “Am I responsible for something that a passenger brought into my car?”

The answer here is generally “YES.”

The law in Connecticut says that an operator or owner of a car is deemed to be in constructive possession of anything in their car. This question comes up most frequently with teenagers and very worried parents of teenagers after Junior has been charged with alcohol or drug possession because one of Junior’s friends brought something along for the ride that shouldn’t have been brought along.

ALWAYS be aware of who is carrying what into your car and tell them “If you’re carrying, then you’re walking”.

Question 3: “Do I have to allow a police officer to search my car?”

There are two answers to this question, one of which is related to Question 4, but as a general idea if a police officer asks you for permission to search your car, you are absolutely not required to give that permission. You have a constitutional right to privacy as to what is contained in your car. All bets are off, though, if contraband or some evidence of a crime is in plain view.

Question 4: “What if a police officer tells me that I have to get out of my car?”

If a police officer tells you to exit your car, then you exit your car. This is not a good time for a constitutional debate or argument over the Bill of Rights. That’s an argument that we take up for you and that we’re trained to do through education and experience.

AND, related to Question 3, if the police then begin to search your car, DO NOT INTERFERE or try to interfere with the search. At this stage your traffic stop has stepped over the probable cause threshold and the police are no longer asking permission.

Question 5: “What do I do if my rights are being violated?”

You call a competent, experienced criminal defense attorney after the police interaction has ended. While you are in the middle of that interaction, my best advice is that you practice the utmost restraint and courtesy.

This is not a moment to fight for the moral high ground or demonstrate who is in a position of greater power. Be smart and polite. Limit your statements consistent with your Fifth Amendment rights and then call the Maddox Law Firm.

Attorney Matthew Maddox has offices in New Canaan. His blog appears on his law firm website and is available by email.

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HTTP/1.1 200 OK Date: Sun, 26 Jun 2022 20:11:50 GMT Server: Apache/2.4.6 (CentOS) PHP/7.2.34 X-Powered-By: PHP/7.2.34 Link: ; rel="https://api.w.org/", ; rel=shortlink X-TEC-API-VERSION: v1 X-TEC-API-ROOT: https://newcanaanite.com/wp-json/tribe/events/v1/ X-TEC-API-ORIGIN: https://newcanaanite.com Vary: Accept-Encoding Cache-Control: max-age=3600 Expires: Sun, 26 Jun 2022 21:11:50 GMT Referrer-Policy: no-referrer-when-downgrade Keep-Alive: timeout=5, max=96 Connection: Keep-Alive Transfer-Encoding: chunked Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 2000 ‘There’s a Way To Disagree Without Being Disagreeable’: Local Clergy Plan Jan. 26 ’Pray for New Canaan’ Service | NewCanaanite.com ‘There’s a Way To Disagree Without Being Disagreeable’: Local Clergy Plan Jan. 26 ’Pray for New Canaan’ Service – NewCanaanite.com

‘There’s a Way To Disagree Without Being Disagreeable’: Local Clergy Plan Jan. 26 ’Pray for New Canaan’ Service

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Clockwise from top left: the Rev. Peter Walsh, the Rev. Chapin Garner, the Rev. Rob Kinnally, the Rev. Rev. Kibbie Laird, the Rev. Scott Herr and the Rev. Derek Fallon. Contributed

Saying many congregants have grown anxious and divided amid the pandemic and following a difficult municipal election, local clergy members that have forged strong bonds with each other amid the pandemic are planning a “Pray for New Canaan” day later this month.

To be held Wednesday, Jan. 26 at St. Aloysius Church, the prayer service grew out of conversations had during the clergy’s bi-weekly gatherings, according to one member of the informal group, the Rev. Dr. Stephen Chapin Garner of The Congregational Church of New Canaan.

“There’s no agenda other than recognizing that there’s a way to disagree without being disagreeable, be in conversation where we can be honest and robust and not back down from our commitments but also not vilify the other [side],” Garner told NewCanaanite.com. 

“It’s nothing other than, we are going to get together to pray for the town, and if anyone wants to show up to join us, they can, too,” he said.

The clergy group is inclusive, Garner said, and its members include himself and the Rev. Kibbie Laird from the Congregational Church, the Rev. Peter Walsh of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, the Rev. Scott Herr of First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan, the Rev. Robert Kinnally of St. Aloysius, the Rev. Dr. Derrick Fallon of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, the Rev. Matthew T. Curry of the United Methodist Church of New Canaan and Pastor Cliffe Knechtle of Grace Community Church.

The service “will be simple and straightforward,” Herr said in an email, responding to an inquiry regarding the format of “Pray for New Canaan.”

“Some readings from different scriptures, some brief reflections, and time to pray, with silence for speaking, listening and singing together,” Herr said.

Herr said that his hope for the service “is to remind everyone that we are a community who genuinely cares about one another and who seek the best for one another, even those who hold different views and opinions.”

“Our motivation come from the Jewish scripture from the prophet Jeremiah 29:7 ‘But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.’ The word ‘welfare’ here is in the Hebrew ‘shalom’ and is translated variably peace, welfare, flourishing, health, wholeness, etc. My favorite definition of shalom is ‘the way it’s supposed to be.’ This is our hope and prayer going into the New Year, that our town will experience the fullness of shalom, and that together we will strive toward a better life and fairer world for all.”

Kinnally when asked about his offer for St. A’s to host the special day said the main reason is because the church is not just centrally located but also very large, so that attendees can spread out and feel safe and comfortable during the service. 

“We all in our ministry have encountered folks really searching and struggling, is how I view it, and the way to the begin the healing process with that is to pray,” Kinnally said.

He added, “I think that in some ways what New Canaan is dealing with is what the rest of the world is dealing with, which is the uncertainty. What is happening all over the world, what is happening particularly with the virus and how does that affect our ability to be together? What does it do to our spirits? It makes us frustrated, it makes us anxious, it makes it difficult to plan. And that really wears on people and the whole idea of face coverings, masks and the whole back-and-forth on that—What is the right thing to do? What is the wrong thing to do?—and the vaccine and the whole nine yards, and all of it swirling together. And yet here we are, we have to navigate life. We have to be in relationship to each other, whether that’s a friendship or whether it’s a marriage or it’s a parent-child relationship or it is whatever it is.”

People’s anxiousness is affecting all of those relationships, Kinnally said.

“So we clergy think that one of the ways to deal with all of that and to bring ‘consolation,’ as we talk about in spiritual life—bring consolation, which is a sense of peacefulness to know that God is there, the other person is there—is to pray. So it’s about prayer. So coming together to pray to ask God’s blessing, to ask God’s peace to reign, to ask for whatever we need that God could give us. And basically bringing healing, because there are people who are sick too. An 2000 d we just need all of it. And it all comes from God: peace, healing, presence. An abiding presence. There is somebody out there who cares for me, who loves me, who can calm my weary spirit, calm my anxious spirit especially.”

Garner said he believes that prayer “makes a difference.”

“My baseline is that if we can get the leaders of our churches together to just pray for the town as a whole then by God’s grace something will happen, and a degree of civility will surprisingly overtake us,” he said. “For me and my faith perspective, I’m not doing this for show. it is because I believe that if we pray about this, it will begin to come to pass. And then I believe that the more people that say, ‘Hey, we’re going to come together across the different churches in town, across political divide, across the pandemic divide, just to say, hey we are a community. we are meant to be neighborly. we are meant to reach out and care for each other.’ And that we don’t need unity of mind or belief to do that. That’s the goal.”

Garner added, “It wasn’t much more than if we can get all the clergy from denominations that don’t always agree to come together in fellowship and pray together, that’s a good step. and to do it toward the beginning of the year and just pray for it but also let the town know the clergy is well-connected with one another and values civility.”

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