Heien v. North Carolina

If you are interested in criminal defense, you are likely hearing about the Heien decision handed down on December 15. 

It doesn’t really matter whether you follow the law, you’re getting stopped either way.

In a nutshell, police officers may make objectively reasonable mistakes in law as a justification for a traffic stop without implicating the exclusionary rule for evidence discovered as a result of the bad stop.  In Heien, the officer effected a stop because a driver had a tail light out when the law in North Carolina only required one tail light, so the stop was based upon the officer’s mistaken understanding of the law.  As a result of the stop, the officer found contraband.

Lesson to law enforcement:  Don’t train your officers about traffic law and they will find more contraband.

Lesson to motorists:  It doesn’t really matter whether you follow the law, you’re getting stopped either way.

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