Specific actions are usually required to arrest and charge someone with a criminal offense. These actions do not always refer to the actual commission of a crime. Intent to commit an offense may lead to charges. In certain jurisdictions, merely being present and acting suspiciously may be a crime. In the state of New Jersey, for example, loitering to commit prostitution or the intent to purchase drugs are disorderly persons (misdemeanor) offenses. This is not the only state with such laws on the books. Sadly, people sometimes end up arrested due to unknowingly doing the wrong things by mistake in the wrong place. Avoiding suspicious behavior cuts down on the chances of a false arrest.
Avoid Danger Zones
Police generally charge someone with loitering with intent to commit a crime when the person is in an area known for criminal activity. To remain out of trouble, do not travel through areas known for drug, prostitution, or other vice activity. Avoiding these areas means avoiding walking inadvertently into a sting.
Granted, not everyone may be able to avoid the danger zone. People who live or work near such areas may have to drive or walk through them. Whether walking or driving, take the following advice:
- Don't Make Suspicious Moves with a Vehicle
Driving too slowly, beeping the horn, making sharp and quick lane changes or U-turns may be deemed suspicious behavior. A police car could pull someone over after seeing erratic driving. People who are passing through do just that - they smoothly drive through the neighborhood without doing anything suspicious.
- Don't Stop Walking and Never Engage
When in a vice area, walk at a normal, brisk pace. Do not stop and talk with anyone on the street. Merely talking to stranger on the street could lead an observing police officer to assume a "buy" is occurring. When strangers try to start a conversation, don't be confrontational - just keep moving. Always avoid looking and acting like someone who is lingering in the neighborhood for nefarious purposes.
Despite taking the right steps, a person may still be questioned or searched by the police. What the police officer finds may lead to an arrest.
Never Carry Substantial Cash
The police will likely ask you to empty your pockets when being questioned. They are searching for evidence and $200 in cash could contribute to the probable cause for an arrest. Unless absolutely necessary, don't carry a lot of cash in sketchy neighborhoods.
Get the Case Thrown Out
A good criminal defense lawyer could get charges dismissed if the evidence is weak. Take solace in the fact an arrest does not mean a conviction or even a trial or plea bargain. Contact a firm like Jividen And Wehnert Llc for more info.