Being pulled over by police while you are driving can make any driver feel nervous. However, if you are in possession of drugs, drug paraphernalia or anything that could be misconstrued as such, a traffic stop can be even more frightening.
In these situations, it is crucial to remember that you have rights, and police must observe these rights. For instance, you are protected from unreasonable searches. In this post, we will look at a few basic things you need to understand about searches and traffic stops.
To begin with, you must understand that you do not have to consent to a warrantless search of your vehicle. Police can ask and many people do consent, either because they don't think they have anything to hide or because they don't know they can refuse. But you do not have to consent to a search.
This does not mean police cannot search your vehicle. As discussed in this FindLaw article, they could secure a warrant or justify a warrantless search by arguing they had reason to believe there was something dangerous and/or illegal in your car.
It is also crucial to understand that protections against unlawful search and seizure don't apply in every situation. There are some situations in which these protocols do not need to be followed. These situations could include seizure of materials in plain view and search of property that has been abandoned.
Considering how complex these laws are and how confusing exceptions and exigent circumstances can be for people without a background in criminal law, it can be crucial to consult an attorney in order to understand how and if legal protections apply in a specific situation.
In the event that your rights were violated during a traffic stop or vehicle search and you end up facing criminal charges as a result, you can work with a criminal defense attorney to challenge the claims against you. Scrutinizing search procedures and other elements of a traffic stop will be vital in seeking to have evidence and the charges against you dismissed.