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Supreme Court: It’s not illegal to avoid the police

On Behalf of | May 25, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Many people get nervous if they see police officers on the street. They may try to avoid contact with those officers, such as turning and walking the other way or turning down the side street.

In the past, there have been cases where police officers have seen this activity and detained those individuals to question them. But the Supreme Court in California has recently ruled that this type of detainment is prohibited. It’s not illegal for people to avoid the police, and someone who is doing so hasn’t incriminated themselves to the point that they should be detained. People should be able to avoid police officers if they would like – without fear of penalty.

What if the police officer approaches the person?

There have also been situations where police officers will approach people and try to talk to them, intentionally starting the conversation. They may ask where the person is going, what they’re doing, why they came to that location or something else of this nature.

Even in situations like this, the Supreme Court said that police officers must respect someone’s constitutional right to walk away. If they are not being detained, they do not have to stay and talk to the officers. But the officer can’t use the fact that the person is avoiding the conversation as a reason to detain them. They would need to have another reason, such as seeing evidence of a crime in plain view or believing that the person matched the description of a suspect that they were looking for.

Have you been arrested?

This is a major ruling for citizens across California. If you’ve been arrested or detained and you believe that the police did so illegally, you definitely need to know about all of the defense options at your disposal.