Tuscon, AZ asked in Traffic Tickets for Arizona

Q: I know I was illegally pulled over because of racial profiling. How do I fight back?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Kai Michael Henderson
Kai Michael Henderson
  • Criminal Law Lawyer

A: Generally speaking, it is extremely hard to fight racial profiling. Many people facing criminal charges want to use a civil rights violation as leverage against the State in a prosecution. This is unsuccessful in the vast majority of cases.

The best cases have the best evidence. If you recorded the encounter with the police yourself and the officer uttered racist epithets or admitted that he or she pulled you over based on race, you may have a good case. In the criminal, or traffic case, you can allege that the stop was for an improper purpose if there was no other overt reason for the Officer to pull you over. To fight these cases without some overt action by the officer showing that the stop was racially motivated, you need discovery. The first step most people take is to ask the law enforcement agency for the dashcam or bodycam video in writing and by telephone. It is disheartening to say, but when a person is alleging some police misconduct, the dashcam was often "in the shop" at the time of the stop. Policies on the use of cameras are different from agency to agency, but some agencies are now requiring bodycams all the time, so there is progress in some places.

Some attorneys request or subpoena various records of the police department that engaged in the traffic stop and have an expert parse the statistical data of all the stops over the last year or couple of years for a showing of a pattern of racism. You can also parse the data of that particular officer that made the stop. The term "expert" generally flags that the litigation is getting expensive. These are tough to impossible cases and a lot of clients have high expectations and pour a lot of money into a claim. Oftentimes the evidence and attorneys simply cannot meet these high expectations.

Ultimately, if there are Civil Rights abuses taking place, especially blatant ones, then it is best if someone raises that alarm to prevent the pattern of misconduct from continuing to take place. You will need a good Criminal Defense Attorney to go over the evidence and evaluate whether or not the stop was constitutional.

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