Can the Police Search My Vehicle?

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Decatur Criminal Lawyer

Decatur Criminal LawyerThe Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants citizens the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. Each search is required to be fully scrutinized before it takes place to make sure that the person’s Constitutional rights are not violated in any way.

You may have heard of many situations where a driver was pulled over for a routine traffic stop — only to result in a search of their vehicle and potential arrest. However, the truth is that law enforcement does not always have the automatic right to search a vehicle for every traffic stop.

If an individual is stopped by an officer and then subsequently arrested, they should contact a criminal lawyer immediately. A skilled attorney in Decatur will be able to evaluate the details of the stop and the arrest and determine if the accused’s rights were violated. If they were, then the lawyer may start to build a solid defense for the accused.

What Is a Valid Search?

There are situations where an officer does have the right to search your vehicle. The following are some examples of when this is allowed. A criminal lawyer, such as Andrew R. Lynch, P.C., can discuss these situations with you in more detail.

You give your consent: When a driver has given their consent to search a vehicle, any evidence the police find can be used as evidence in any future legal case.

The officer has probable cause: Law enforcement needs to have probable cause in order to search a vehicle during a traffic stop. An example of probable cause would be if the officer smelled marijuana when they approached the vehicle or as they were talking to the driver. At that point, they might do a search or call for drug-sniffing dogs to determine if there are any drugs in the vehicle. One key point to this, however, is that the officer cannot prolong the traffic stop in an attempt to find something. The amount of time a driver is stopped for must be reasonable and in line with a typical traffic stop.

You are arrested: If factors of the stop resulted in the driver getting arrested, then the police usually have the right to search the vehicle. As long as police have a valid reason for arresting you, then the assumption is that this also gives them a valid reason for searching your vehicle.

Police have a search warrant: It is unlikely the officer will have a search warrant to search a vehicle since the majority of traffic stops are not planned. There are cases, however, where an individual may be a suspect in a crime and the court grants a search warrant to search the person’s vehicle.

The bottom line is that if there is not a legitimate reason for an officer to stop a driver, then there is not a legitimate reason to search the vehicle during that stop. A skilled Decatur criminal lawyer will be able to examine the facts of the stop and determine if it was a legitimate one.