The police operate under set parameters. If they suspect a driver is acting suspiciously, they may initiate a police stop. However, to legally stop a moving vehicle in Pennsylvania, police have to have a reason, such as a traffic infraction.

When in a parking lot, can the police contact you? The lines of reasonable suspicion may blur in this scenario. At The Law Offices of Campana, Hoffa, Morrone & Lovecchio, P.C., we aim to educate you about police practices. If you see police lights while parked, it helps to know how to react.

Interaction versus detention

Police practice is often broken down into interaction followed by detention and ultimately arrest. A verbal exchange between an officer and a citizen is interaction. If an officer does not allow a person to leave or makes it clear the conversation must continue, this is detention. When an officer has no probable cause to detain someone, he or she is working outside the legal parameters of the job.

The police can interact with anyone

Public parking lots do not always permit drivers to loiter. Police officers patrol lots often to prevent crime. When an officer approaches and engages, it is a good idea to complete the exchange politely. However, if you feel leaving is not an option, realize the officer is detaining you. You can ask if you can go, and an officer has to inform you of the status of the interaction. It is possible the officer saw something in your vehicle while talking and may ask you for permission to search it. You do not need to yield, and the officer will have to obtain a warrant to go further.

If you need more information on criminal charges that may stem from police questioning, visit our webpage.