There Is No Backing Down When Seeking Justice For You

When can police officers search someone’s vehicle?

A traffic stop may be inconvenient and could end up becoming expensive. If a police officer believes a traffic infraction occurred, they can write someone a ticket that might cost them hundreds of dollars.

Occasionally, what starts as a basic traffic stop eventually leads to someone’s arrest. Police officers who go through someone’s vehicle may find evidence of criminal activity that justifies arresting and prosecuting that driver. Those involved in traffic stops need to understand their rights if they want to minimize their risk of unnecessary and unfair prosecution. There are limits to police searches that people need to know about if they hope to adequately protect themselves.

When is it legal for a police officer to search someone’s vehicle?

When they have a warrant

Occasionally, police officers obtain search warrants signed by judges to conduct specific searches. When a vehicle might contain compelling criminal evidence, a judge could sign a warrant authorizing a search of the vehicle. Warrants for vehicle searches typically play a role after someone’s arrest rather than during a traffic stop.

When they have probable cause

Frequently, police officers justify their decision to search a vehicle because of other issues they notice during a traffic stop. Maybe they smell drugs when they approach the vehicle. Perhaps they notice potentially illegal weapons or what looks like drug paraphernalia. When an officer has a reasonable suspicion of a specific criminal infraction, they may have the probable cause necessary to search someone’s vehicle without a warrant.

When they have permission

Police officers often do their best to trick people into giving up their rights. An officer might ask casually if they could look in someone’s vehicle during a traffic stop. The motorist may want to cooperate with the officer and might give their consent to a search. What people fail to consider is the fact that a previous owner or any passengers in their vehicles may have left something that could lead to their arrest. If an officer has to ask for permission to search a vehicle, they likely don’t have the probable cause necessary to search without someone’s consent.

Understanding the limits on certain types of police activity may help people avoid criminal charges. Drivers arrested after the search of their vehicle can sometimes question police conduct as part of their criminal defense strategy.