Can the Police Search My Car?

Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?”


You are driving along and suddenly you see flashing red lights and hear a siren behind you. You are being pulled over by the police. Even if you are not doing anything wrong, you are likely to feel panicky and scared. When law enforcement pulls you over they will come to your window and ask for your name, your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. The officer will return to the police car to check your license and will come back to your car to talk to you about the incident. In some cases, the police want to search your vehicle, but should you allow them to do so? Though you may not have anything to hide, you may not feel comfortable with the police checking the inside of your car.


What are My Rights?


The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides protection against unreasonable searches. You can consent to a search, which gives permission to law enforcement. Without permission, a reasonable search may occur when a member of law enforcement believes that you committed a crime or when the vehicle is thought to be involved in a crime. The police can search the vehicle as part of an arrest procedure as well as when they feel a search is needed to protect themselves. For instance, the officer may believe that you have a weapon in the vehicle.


What Happens if the Police Conducted an Illegal Search?


If a search was actually conducted illegally, any evidence collected in the search cannot be used in court. Your attorney will make a motion to exclude or suppress specific evidence based on an illegal search. If the evidence was substantial, it might mean that the state does not have enough proof that you committed a crime and therefore, may drop the charges. However, keep in mind that there may be other evidence in the case. An experienced criminal defense attorney will review the evidence and the manner in which it was collected. There may be options that will help you resolve your case in a favorable way.


Can the Police Use Drug Sniffing Dogs?


Sometimes the police use specially-trained dogs to determine whether to search a vehicle. Dogs are trained to alert if they detect illegal drugs. A police officer walks the sniffer dog around the perimeter of the car. Generally, the police must ask your permission to allow the dog to sniff your vehicle. If the dog alerts, the police may consider it probable cause to search inside. In some instances, the use of police dogs to sniff vehicles in traffic stops may be illegal. If a dog was utilized in a search of your vehicle and you were subsequently arrested, the use of the dog and any evidence gathered might be in question.


If you were arrested after a search of your car, you may be facing serious charges. A knowledgeable criminal attorney will fight for your rights and defend the charges. Call Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 for a consultation.






The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.




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