Latest Statistics Demonstrate That North Carolina Traffic Stops & Searches Linked to Racial Profiling
According to data recently released by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, minority drivers are much more likely to be searched by police officers during traffic stops than white drivers, with five departments in particular demonstrating some of the highest disparities, including the Asheboro Police Department, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Greensboro Police Department, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, and Randolph County Sheriff’s Office. These statistics make it clear that racial profiling is occurring frequently here in North Carolina when it comes to traffic stops, as well as connected search and seizure practices, both when it comes to who police is deciding to pull over, and who is being searched, which affects the legality of these stops and any evidence seized as a result, as used against criminal defendants at trial.
Specifically, it is young black male and Hispanic drivers who, according to the data, are being targeted by police officers. For example, since 2002, in Forsyth County alone, sheriff’s deputies stopped more than 12,000 Hispanic drivers and searched approximately 7.5 percent of them. While deputies stopped just as many – if not more – white drivers, they only searched approximately three percent of them.
A Longstanding Pattern in North Carolina
Forsyth is not alone: North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Greensboro, Asheboro, Randolph County, etc.—all were between two and three times more likely to search black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers.
Unfortunately, this is nothing new here in North Carolina; the state has been collecting this data – and has known about this problem – for years, yet it still appears to be a significant issue. The statistics, over time, reveal that this is less about pulling people over because they have violated a traffic law and more because there is a desire to investigate the person; not because there is any actual reasonable suspicion or probable cause. In addition, unfortunately the problem is not scrutinized enough by judges because, most of the time, police do not find anything, and only successful searches end up in front of judges. However, it is crucial for defense attorneys to argue that police testimony should be subject to a heightened level of scrutiny if it is to justify grounds for a search.
Fourth & 14th Amendment Violations
When officers profile individuals on the basis of race and unconstitutionally expand a traffic stop into a drug investigation, absent reasonable suspicion, they violate a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, as well as a denial of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee. An individual’s race does not justify initiating a criminal investigation, and as a result, charges should be dismissed and/or a conviction overturned.
If You Have Been Charged, Contact an Experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a DWI stop or arrest or drug stop, and suspect that your constitutional rights were violated, contact the North Carolina criminal lawyers at the Hauter Law Firm, PC. We are here to assist you and ensure that you obtain the very best possible outcome in your case.