Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Football player pulled over by police, accused of drug dealing

Being accused of a crime can damage anyone's reputation, but this damage is only amplified when the accused is a celebrity. Celebrities live their life in the public eye, so any alleged wrongdoing can quickly be blown out of proportion, even if they are innocent. However, should a celebrity claim they were the victim of police misconduct, this too will likely make the nightly news.

For example, Paul Richardson, who is a wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, was pulled over by the police at a Virginia toll lane, and received a citation for having a temporary registration on his new Mercedes. What makes this situation notable, however, is the questions the officer asked him during the traffic stop. Richardson claims the officer asked him if he was a member of a gang. Richardson also claims that the officer told him he believed Richardson dealt drugs. Finally, Richardson claims the officer asked how much he paid for his vehicle. According to Richardson, he has a maximum of two months under Virginia law to register his vehicle.

A Virginia State Police spokeswoman verified that police pulled Richardson over because his Mercedes did not display the correct license plates as mandated by the laws of the Commonwealth. She also maintained that the situation is being reviewed, including a review of the video recording by the patrol vehicle camera, to determine if the traffic stop was lawful.

As this shows, celebrities and non-celebrities alike can be accused of violating the law. That being said, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed to pull a vehicle over. A vehicle cannot be pulled over for any arbitrary reason. Also, police must follow the law when it comes to questioning a person they suspect has done something illegal. Motorists stopped by police have rights, and any police overreach deserves to be analyzed, so that the proper measures can be taken to protect the accused. Those who have questions about this or about other criminal defense topics are encouraged to seek the help they need to better understand how the law will apply to the facts of their specific case.

Source: ESPN, "Redskins' Paul Richardson: Police thought I was dealer, asked if I was in gang," April 24, 2018

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