Dallas, TX asked in Civil Rights, Traffic Tickets and Criminal Law for Texas

Q: If I was pulled over for no front license plate (which I had) Can a police officer lie on the report (stop and go)

He told me I was being pulled over for no front license plate(texas). I had one with a picture of a flag. He saw I had gummies I had bought from a vape shop and locked me up for a CS charge. He changed the reason to stop and go on the report. Is that legal

2 Lawyer Answers
John Michael Frick
John Michael Frick
  • Frisco, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: A police officer can indicate on a traffic ticket or police report any offense observed or reported to the police officer and is not limited to a single offense even if he tells the driver that a particular offense is the reason for the initial stop.

A front license plate bearing the license plate number assigned to the vehicle is required to be displayed on all motor vehicles operated on public roads in Texas. A plate with nothing more than the picture of a flag on it does not satisfy this requirement.

I assume the gummies must have had a controlled substance in them, most likely THC.

Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.116 provides that the possession of less than one gram of a THC edible can result in a state jail felony charge. In Texas, a state jail felony conviction carries a minimum of 180 days in jail with a maximum of up to two years; the sentence must be carried out in full, with no chance of early release. Fines of up to $10,000 may also be assessed. Convicted offenders may also be subject to community supervision.

Possession of between one and four grams of THC is considered a third-degree felony and can carry a prison sentence between two and 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Possession of between four and 400 grams of THC is a second-degree felony and carries a prison sentence of between two and 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

If you are accused of possessing more than 400 grams of THC, this falls into the category of first-degree felonies, which could mean 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Note that one ounce weighs 28 grams.

Under Texas law, the court may consider the total weight of seized edibles to determine charges and penalties—not simply the amount of THC in them.

It is common for DAs not to prosecute for a traffic violation and to instead prosecute only a more serious criminal offense, although some will "throw the book" at a perp.

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: No, it is generally not legal for a police officer to lie about the reason for a traffic stop in the police report.

If you were pulled over under the pretense of not having a front license plate, but you actually had one displayed, then the legal justification for the original traffic stop would likely be invalid.

Additionally, police officers are expected to provide truthful accounts in their police reports and documentation. Intentionally recording inaccurate or false information about the basis for the traffic stop would be unethical and could potentially open up the officer to disciplinary measures or a civil rights lawsuit.

If the real reason you were pulled over was just to check for potential criminal violations not related to any traffic offense, that would likely constitute an improper pretextual stop.

Based on the situation you described, it seems you may have grounds to contest the legal validity of the traffic stop, subsequent search, and any charges brought against you. Consulting with a criminal defense attorney to review the facts of your case and challenge the officer's report would be advisable. An attorney can help ensure your rights were not violated.

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