car search

Protecting Your Rights: What to Know About Illegal Car Searches

Depending on the police officer in charge, a traffic stop should usually just end with a citation. Many motorists are allowed to simply drive away, slightly annoyed and inconvenienced. More often than not, however, officers tend to prolong traffic detentions. In the worst-case scenarios, they end up searching the driver’s vehicle, turning it upside down.

While other officers will have legal justification for these searches, other unfortunate drivers end up suffering from searches without warrants. Simply put, these justifications are nonexistent. All types of arrests and searches need to have a basis, and this also encompasses a car search. 

It’s important to remember that the Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable intrusion, including warrantless searches. As an American citizen, you have the right to protect your person, houses, papers, and effects against all unreasonable searches and seizures. 

If you find yourself facing an unconstitutional search, here is a quick guide we’ve curated for you. Read on to properly protect your rights.

When Can Warrantless Searches Be Allowed?

Although the rules regarding police searching a vehicle remain somewhat unclear, the Supreme Court decided in 2009 that the scope of the search must be within reason, all depending on the car and circumstances involved. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of the types of vehicle searches, which are as follows:

1. Search incident to arrest: This means that a search conducted by a police officer within the immediate vicinity of the driver is possible. This vicinity should be anywhere the driver can reach inside the car, but police must always have the grounds to place the arrest. 

2. Probable Cause Search: Such instances are allowed, provided that the police have a reasonable belief that a specific weapon or crime evidence exists and can be found when the driver is searched. This also includes illegal drugs and other items deemed illegal by law. 

3. Inventory Search: This is only allowed when the police have cause to arrest the driver, where the car is then impounded. However, all items must be listed down to avoid liability for any loss or damage.

What Violates Your Rights?

In general, all police searches necessitates a warrant, unless an exception applies. This includes your consent, plain view, and even exigent circumstances, but anything that doesn’t apply to these means an unlawful search. Should evidence indeed be found in your person or vehicle, it will be deemed inadmissible in court due to an illegal search and seizure.

Police are also limited in their actions of searching your car and person. Keep in mind that they cannot begin the search unless they are operating under reasonable suspicion, especially when it pertains to a crime. They cannot stop and frisk you for anything unless you have been found reasonably suspicious of any criminal activity. 

Protect Your Rights—Enlist The Help Of A Criminal Lawyer

Search and seizures should operate under due processes, and anything illegal found in your car without proper search warrants will be deemed inadmissible in court. However, not everyone follows the law—even select police offers. If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation, keep in mind that the Fourth Amendment has been designed to protect you. 

If you have been stopped by an officer under unreasonable grounds, consulting the best criminal lawyer in Boston is your best option. Attorney Frank Fernandez is an industry expert in criminal law and has handled numerous trials in both state and federal courts. Allow him to protect your rights—book a consultation today.