The answer is generally no.
The police can stop you for an outstanding warrant or if you were breaking a law such as you were improperly parked or had a broken tail light. They may also check on your wellbeing as part of their community caretaking function. For example, they may stop you to point out a flat tire.
An officer may also stop you if he or she has a reasonable suspicion that you were engaged in criminal activity. For example, someone may have phoned police that they saw a driver with your make of car weaving all over the road.
Under the Fourth Amendment, police may conduct a brief, investigatory stop known as a Terry stop, if they reasonably infer from the circumstances that you are involved in criminal activity. The officer must have specific facts to justify the stop from the beginning and cannot rely on evidence found after the fact.
In People v Williams, the court held that merely sitting in a parked car in a high crime area before an abandoned building did not give the officer reasonable grounds to stop the defendant. The defendant had no warrant and was not committing a crime at the time of the stop. The officer simply stopped defendant to ask what he was doing. As such, the stop was improper. Thus, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction for the narcotics found during the illegal stop.
If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate your situation for your best possible defense. If the police acted improperly, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to suppress the evidence from your arrest.
Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may negotiate a more favorable plea agreement then you could on your own.
If you have questions about a criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)