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When A Police Officer Searches Your Car

by | Jan 2, 2017 | Criminal Law, DUI Defense Attorney

As criminal defense attorneys in South Carolina, we often defend clients who were arrested after their cars were searched. When this happens, we must be diligent about ensuring that a client’s rights were not violated. Under the Fourth Amendment, American citizens are protected from illegal searches and seizures. Should a police officer obtain evidence against you illegally, we may be able to use it for your defense. If you have been charged with a crime because of evidence obtained from a search of your car, we will work with you to determine whether or not this search was legal by carefully reviewing what happened when you were pulled over.

Being Pulled Over By Police

An officer has the right to pull you over if they saw you violate or have reason to believe that you violated a traffic law. The most common reasons for pulling someone over include speeding, having a headlight out, or running a red light, but any traffic violation grants the police the right to pull you over. Additionally, if they suspect you are driving under the influence for any reason, or if they have information that implicates you in any sort of criminal activity, they can also pull you over.

Permission To Search

Should the police officer suspect you of anything, they may ask to search your vehicle. If you give them permission, they have the right to search your car. We advise that you refuse permission for any search. Should the officer find anything incriminating, challenging this evidence in court will be substantially more difficult. Usually, an officer will ask for permission only if they know they don’t have sufficient grounds to get a warrant, and if they do, they will get a warrant and be able to anyway.

Probable Cause

When it comes to car searches, probable cause makes these matters more complicated. For an officer to search the car legally without permission, probable cause must be established. Probable cause means that the officer observed something that strongly suggested something illegal was going on. For example, an officer might smell marijuana, or see drug paraphernalia somewhere in the vehicle. Probable cause can also be established if you say something suspicious. Because this is so subjective, we often will spend a lot of time evaluating the police investigation to determine whether probable cause was truly established. This is where hiring a criminal defense attorney will be most valuable; we can carefully review your case, and with our legal expertise, we have the experience and knowledge necessary to determine whether the law has been followed or not.

If The Police Arrest You

If you are arrested, a police officer might be able to search your vehicle as well. How thorough the search can be will be dependent on the circumstances. If your car is towed after being arrested, officers may be able to do an “inventory search,” which gives them the opportunity to search for evidence again. Should you be arrested and your car searched, it is very important to hire a criminal defense attorney to review your case. We can look into the particulars of your case to determine whether the officer’s search was lawful. If we should find that the search conducted was unlawful, it is beneficial to your defense because we may be able to throw out any evidence obtained. In this situation, it is crucial for you to hire a defense attorney to advocate on your behalf. The law around these issues is complex, which is why it is advisable to hire an attorney who is knowledge about South Carolina criminal law. When you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in South Carolina, contact The De Bruin Law Firm today.

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