Racial Profiling and Traffic Stops

With incidents such as what happened to Michael Brown and Eric Garner gaining more public and media attention, issues of race and police are on many people’s minds. It seems distant that these events could happen to normal people. In light of the attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Syria, individuals jump to the need to categorize people and judge them for their ethnicity, skin color, or religion. These are all grander issues, but they can affect domestic policies as well. One aspect that can be influenced by racial profiling is traffic stops.

What is Racial Profiling?

Racial profiling refers to the discriminatory practice where people in authority suspect individuals of a crime solely based on his or her skin color, ethnicity, religion, race, or national origin. Someone’s race does not qualify as “reasonable suspicion” when it comes to being pulled over. Rather, it is considered illegal to detain or arrest someone because of racial profiling. If someone is wrongfully arrested, a skilled criminal defense attorney can potentially have the case dropped.

Racial profiling can occur when a person in power, such as police officers, security guards, or airport agents, discriminately judges someone based on their race and takes actions against them because of it. An example of this would be if an Arab man were detained for an inordinately long time at the airport for no other reason than because of his nationality.

How Prevalent is Racial Profiling?

Although we like to believe we live in a progressive age, racial profiling can still be an issue. Police officers often have to use their judgement on when to pull someone over. If the individual displays suspicious behavior or drives recklessly, then the officer is simply doing their job. However, if someone is pulled over because he or she is another race or religion, it is a wrongful stop.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ current study, there is no concrete evidence that shows one race being pulled over more than the other. There are an average of 17 million people who the police halt for a traffic stop.

Some statistics of these stops include:

  • 9.9% of male drivers were stopped, compared to the 7% of women.
  • Of the number of stops, 9.1% were Hispanic, 8.8% were Black, and 8.4% were White.
  • Black citizens were three times more likely to be searched during a stop.
  • Percentage of individuals searched: Black (12.3%), White (3.9), and Hispanic (5.8%).

These statistics illustrate the discrepancy in the way justice is processed. Police officers have the duty to judge citizens fairly and be accountable for their actions. In order to rightfully search a car, they must either:

  • Receive consent from the driver for the search.
  • Reasonable suspicion for illicit activity.
  • Possess a search warrant.

Without these key factors, any searches and arrested conducts are wrong.

If you believe you have been wrongfully stopped, searched, or arrested and are the victim of racial profiling, you may have grounds to have your case dismissed. Contact our Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. We will help you seek the justice you deserve.