Interactions with the police, especially if you are being stopped for being suspected of committing a crime or traffic violation, are often terrifying. When stopped, you may be uncertain of your rights and may feel intimidated by the police presence. In some cases, the police officer may ask you a series of questions, ask you to get out of your vehicle, and may even ask to conduct a search of your vehicle, your person, or other property, such as your backpack or even your home. Here’s what you should know about search and seizure laws and your rights when asked to consent to a search—
You Have The Right To Be Protected Against Unreasonable Search and Seizure
Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, you have the right to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure. Under the Fourth Amendment, it reads that this right shall not be violated and no warrants for search and seizure shall be obtained unless there is probable cause. This means that the police do have the right to search your person or your property when the police have been able to present probable cause that they will find evidence of a crime if they conduct a search and they have presented this evidence to a judge who has issued a warrant; the police do not have a warrant, but they do have probable cause the circumstances are such that a warrantless search is justified; or the police have your permission to conduct a search.
Can Police Search My Car During A Traffic Stop?
Police can search your car at a traffic stop if they have probable cause to do so or they have your consent. You do not have to give your consent. If the police ask to search your vehicle, you can and should politely say no.
Probable cause, as a reminder, means evidence that gives the police officer compelling reason to believe that they will find evidence of criminal activity if they conduct a search. In a traffic stop, probable cause might include seeing open containers of alcohol, or being able to see drugs within the vehicle. Making a traffic stop alone is generally not considered probable cause to conduct a search.
What Happens If A Search Violates My Rights?
In some cases, police officers will conduct searches of vehicles, homes, personal property, or persons that are in violation of the suspect or defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. Evidence found in these searches may be seized and submitted to the court against the defendant, and used by the prosecution to secure a conviction. This is one of the most important reasons to have a skilled Rochester criminal defense lawyer on your side—your lawyer can file a motion to exclude the evidence and, if the court finds that the evidence was obtained via illegal search and seizure, it will withhold evidence and the evidence cannot be used against you in your criminal prosecution. This could result in charges against you being dropped or reduced.
Get Help From An Experienced Rochester Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges, you need an attorney on your side who understands your Constitutional rights and is prepared to advocate for you. To learn more about the Rochester criminal defense attorneys at the office of King Law, call our office directly today. We are here to represent you.