One of my clients faced up to 30 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine for a B Felony Meth charge. The prosecutor agreed to dismiss the charges. Why? The cop did not have reasonable suspicion to pull my client over. In most circumstances, the cops must have reasonable suspicion of a crime to stop you.
You do not have to talk to police during consensual encounters. In State v. Nicholson, 188 S.W.3d 649 (Tenn. 2006), the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned a conviction where the police were in a “high crime area” and wanted to have a “consensual” encounter with the defendant. Upon seeing the police, the defendant fled the “consensual” encounter and the police chased him down and arrested him.
In its decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that being in a high crime area and fleeing from a consensual encounter with police were not enough to stop a suspect. The Court reasoned that, while both facts were relevant to reasonable suspicion, given there are legitimate reasons to avoid talking to police in a high crime area, these two facts, alone, were not enough for reasonable suspicion.
In my client’s case, he did not even flee from the police. He slowly pulled away. And that is not enough for reasonable suspicion.