What Constitutes a Legal Search of a Motor Vehicle?

What Constitutes a Legal Search of a Motor Vehicle?

Posted By Clovis Martin || 21-Apr-2016

There are numerous different factors that play into whether or not a police officer is legally allowed to search your car during a traffic stop. It is possible that an officer might demand to search your vehicle without any legal right to do so. If you are not sure whether or not the police are impending on your rights, remember this golden rule: in general, an officer must have probable cause for search. If he or she does not have a reason to "reasonably believe" you have committed a crime then the search may be illegal.

For example, if an officer pulls over a vehicle with two men in it and while following "a haunch" to search the vehicle finds illegal drugs or weapons, the officer has done so illegally and cannot continue with a valid arrest. The officer did not have probable cause to search the car. However, if the officer received information that two men in a vehicle were suspect to a crime before searching the vehicle, the search would be considered legal and valid. Even if the two men were not connected to the real suspects, there was probable cause for the officer to search the vehicle.

How You Can Defend Yourself from Illegal Searches

The most important thing to remember is that you have rights and those rights can be protected. If an officer encroaches on those rights, you can fight your charges with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. Using the details of the incident, a lawyer can create a case strategy that can demonstrate how your charges and arrest are invalid.

Details that can determine whether or not evidence taken from your car during a stop is valid include:

  • Whether your car was stationary or moving
  • The validity and reason the officer pulled you over
  • Whether the situation created an exception to a warrant requirement
  • Whether the officer had reason to frisk the individual or not
  • If a canine sniff is conducted, whether it was conducted within the time of the search

If your vehicle was searched during a traffic stop and you need legal representation, contact The Law Office of Clovis Martin today. Our Georgetown criminal defense lawyer can help protect your rights!

Call (512)607-5559 or fill out our online form.

Categories: Criminal Defense