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When can police lawfully search a vehicle?

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2020 | Criminal Records

You have certain constitutional rights, and it is in your interests to know what these rights are and how to protect them. For example, do you know when police can lawfully search your vehicle? When is it legal for law enforcement to come onto or search your personal property in order to look for evidence of illegal activity?

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you from illegal searches and seizures. Law enforcement needs probable cause in order to conduct a search of a person or property. If it was not legal, it will negate any evidence collected from the search. You have the right to challenge the prosecution’s case against you, especially if you suspect an invalid search and seizure procedure used by law enforcement.

Warrantless searches

In most cases, police need a valid warrant to conduct a search of your vehicle or come into your home to look for evidence. There are a few occasions, however, when a warrant is not necessary. The circumstances in which this is legal include the following:

  • You gave the officer consent to conduct the search.
  • The police believe a search is necessary for their own safety, such as suspicion of a hidden weapon.
  • There is reason to believe there is evidence of a crime in your personal vehicle.
  • You are already under arrest, and the search relates to the circumstances of your arrest.

If police pull you over for speeding, there is no probable cause to search your vehicle simply because you were driving over the speed limit. However, if police pull you over for suspected drunk driving and eventually place you under arrest, it is possible they could search your vehicle without a warrant.

The best defense

Confronting criminal charges is not something to do alone. Your future, freedom and long-term interests are at stake, and this is why you will find it beneficial to work with an experienced Florida defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest.

The best defense for you depends on your history, the nature of the case against you and your objectives. An assessment of your case can determine the best way to move forward with a custom-tailored defense strategy, and part of that may include challenging the legality of a search and seizure. Regardless of what you are up against, you do not have to face it alone.