Does a cop have the right to come up and question you if you are sitting in a parking lot parked?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Does a cop have the right to come up and question you if you are sitting in a parking lot parked?

I had just got out of work and was sitting in my car when a cop came up and blocked me in so I couldn’t pull out. He came up to my car and started questioning me even though I did nothing wrong. When I rolled down my window, he said that he smelled something and searched me and my car and found paraphernalia in the trunk, so arrested me. Now I have to go to court next week.

Asked on October 10, 2016 under Criminal Law, New Jersey


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

I'm afraid there is no clear-cut answer to your question. If a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person is engaged in some kind of illegal activity, he can question them (i.e. ask for ID). If in the course of doing so, they find evidence of a crime then the officer can effecuate an arrest. It all comes down to whether or not his suspicion was reasonable. At this point, you should consult directly with a local criminal law attorney; they can best advise you further.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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