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Did predictive profiling result in your arrest?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Crime rates throughout New Jersey vary considerably by city and even by neighborhood. Police agencies use the data compiled from these areas to determine where to use more resources in crime deterrence efforts. These analyses often lead police to boost their patrols in specific communities. Law enforcement officers rely on their use of predictive profiling to focus more attention on certain residents.

Police officers take crime data for an area and note the mental and physical attributes of individuals they most commonly arrest. Characteristics may include gender, age, ethnicity, behaviors and even clothing.

How do police officers use predictive profiling?

Law enforcement officers most commonly use predictive profiling when determining whom to stop on the road. New Jersey law requires police officers to pull motorists over for valid traffic infractions, such as a stolen vehicle report, expired license plates or a moving violation.

Police officers sometimes violate the law, pulling motorists over simply because they fit a profiling category. This approach may lead to police detaining or even arresting someone for operating a vehicle that is “too nice” for them.

What can an officer do during a traffic stop?

The problem with stops like this is they allow a police officer to look at anything readily visible in your vehicle. However, police cannot lawfully search it unless you provide your consent or they have probable cause. The stop also allows the law enforcement officer to request your identification and question you.

Even if police officers do not have probable cause to search your vehicle and you do not consent to a search, they can detain you for as long as 90 minutes, according to previous court decisions. This may give officers enough time to notice drug contraband or weapons to give them probable cause necessary to summon drug-sniffing dogs to alert them to the presence of narcotics and for police to conduct a full search of your car.

You may have a valid reason to ask a judge to throw out your charges if police officers did not use predictive profiling correctly. Whether they did depends on the nature of the stop, whether you consented to a search or whether they had probable cause to conduct it.