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Can the Police Search My Car for Drugs Anytime They Want?

 Posted on February 01, 2023 in Criminal Defense

fort worth drug crime defense lawyerIn recent years, there has been a great deal of public debate about the power and authority given to police officers in various situations. Among these concerns is the issue of conducting a search for controlled substances and illicit drugs.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution promises American citizens the right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” of their homes, papers, effects, and persons. The same amendment also specifies that all warrants must be based on probable cause, and they must describe in detail “the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” If you are facing charges based on evidence found during an illegal or unreasonable search, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to get the case against you dismissed.

Consent Supersedes Everything Else

Most people will never have the police come to their house wanting to conduct a search. It is much more common, however, for such a situation to develop during a traffic stop. If you have been stopped by the police, and the officer wants to search your vehicle, they will almost certainly start by asking for your permission. If the officer obtains your clear consent, the search becomes lawful, and you will no longer have the option of challenging the evidence on the basis of an unlawful search.

Keep in mind that the officer might not use the word “search” or even ask for your consent in a direct manner. The officer may say something to the effect of, “You do not mind if I take a quick look around, right?” As a citizen, you always have the right to refuse your consent when an officer asks to search your vehicle. Refusing will not always prevent the search, but you will retain the ability to challenge the validity of the search later.

Understanding Probable Cause

If you decline the search, the officer can legally search your car if they have probable cause to believe that there is evidence of criminal activity in your vehicle. Your vehicle is also subject to being searched if you or your passengers are arrested on any charge.

In general, a minor traffic offense, such as running a red light, is not probable cause upon which a lawful search can be based. However, probable cause can develop during the stop that gives the officer a reason to believe that evidence of a crime or illegal items are in your car. For example, if you get pulled over for speeding, and the officer smells marijuana in your vehicle, this could provide sufficient probable cause for a search.

It is important to remember that a police officer’s opinion regarding probable cause is not always perfect. The officer might tell you that the search is being performed in spite of your refusal because there is probable cause of some kind. This does not mean that the search is automatically considered legal. If the search leads to an arrest, the officer will be required to justify their reasons to the court based on the “totality of the circumstances.” This means that you—with the help of your attorney—can still challenge the basis of the officer’s claim of probable cause. A successful challenge could lead to the search being deemed unlawful and the charges against you being dismissed.

Work With a Fort Worth Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer

Have you or a loved one been arrested and charged with a drug-related crime based on evidence found during a search of your vehicle? If so, it is important to contact an experienced Tarrant County criminal defense attorney right away to ensure that your rights are fully protected. The team at The Dameron Law Firm is prepared to help you challenge the validity of the search and the evidence found so that you can have the best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. Call 817-222-0624 for a free consultation today.





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