When can a cop search my car?
The Fourth Amendment of The U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures at the hands of law enforcement.
This law applies to homes and vehicles. It's important to know your rights, and how you're protected in certain situations. Today, we're talking about what you should do during a search, is it constitutional and what you should do if you're facing charges after that search.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?
Federal laws protect you from unlawful vehicle searches. In a nutshell, if the law enforcement does not ave the proper search warrant, they cannot search your car. BUT that doesn't mean that there aren't instances, and we're going over that today.
WHAT IF IT'S DONE WITHOUT A WARRANT
If your car is searched without a warrant, any evidence they may find can be inadmissible in court. Those items can include anything from narcotics or unlicensed weapons.
WHEN DO THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEARCH?
There are two ways the police can search your vehicle, with a warrant, or with probable cause. The courts define this as evidence noticeably present in the area in question. For example, if the officer can smell alcohol after pulling you over, that would give them probable cause to search your car. Another example would be if you had contraband sitting visible in the seat next to you.
Other reasons they could have the right to search your vehicle:
Providing consent. If you give permission for them to search your car.
Search incident for arrest. In the case of an arrest, the police can check your vehicle for weapons.
Emergency purposes. If waiting to get a warrant can endanger public safety, they have the right to begin their search without a warrant.
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS?
IF there is NO probable cause for the officer to search your car, they may ask you if they can conduct the search. You have every right to deny consent. Also, they may ask you if you're under the influence, or have drugs in your car, but you're not obligated to answer any of these questions.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I'M BEING SEARCHED
Even if you don't feel like they should be searching your car, do not get in their way, or get physical with them. It's always in your best interest to remain calm.
HELP I'VE BEEN CHARGED
The most important thing to do after this is to have an experienced attorney to help you go through the details of your case, and make sure everything they acquired was done legally.
Visit our website: www.ashmorelawfirm.com for more information!