Is it Legal for Police to Search Your Car During a Traffic Stop?
Being pulled over by a police officer can be a nerve-wracking experience, even if you have nothing to hide. If you do have something to hide, being stopped by a police officer can be that much more unnerving. If you are stopped, knowing your rights is important. If you are wondering whether or not it is legal for police to search your car during a traffic stop, consider the following:
When Does a Police Officer Have the Right to Search My Vehicle?
There are three situations in which a police officer has the right to search your vehicle:
- The officer has a search warrant. If an officer has a search warrant, which is a legal document issued by a judge that gives the officer permission to search your vehicle, then you must comply with the search. However, it is unlikely that an officer would have a search warrant at a traffic stop.
- You give the officer your permission. If an officer stops you as part of a traffic stop, they may ask you if they can search your vehicle. You have every right to say no; however, if you say yes, then you have given your permission and the officer may lawfully proceed with a search. Even if you have nothing to hide, exercising your right to refuse a search of your vehicle is recommended.
- The officer has probable cause. An officer does not need your permission or a search warrant in order to search your car if they have probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime (as a note, a police officer must also have probable cause in order to get a warrant). Examples of probable cause that may be used to justify a search of a vehicle include seeing an open container, spotting drugs within the car, or a passenger within the car stating that some illegal material is contained within the vehicle.
What Happens if My Car is Illegally Searched?
If your vehicle is illegally searched–i.e. You did not give the police officer permission to search your vehicle, the police officer did not have probable cause, and the police officer did not have a valid warrant–then any evidence that is obtained can not be used against you to secure a conviction. It is important that you work with an attorney who understands how to prove illegal acquirement of evidence and ensure that evidence is not admitted into court.
Call Our Texas Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
At the law offices of Scott M. Brown & Associates, P.C., our Texas criminal defense attorneys are passionate about making sure that everyone’s constitutional rights are upheld. If your rights have been breached and you are facing criminal charges, do not hesitate to contact our criminal defense attorneys for a consultation and more information about how we can protect you. Reach us today by phone or send us a message at your convenience. We will begin work on your case immediately.