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Posted By Criminal Defense Standard || 7-Aug-2010

    The law provides three (3) basis for policemen to lawfully search your vehicle. 

    1.   A SEARCH WARRANT:  If a police officer has a warrant he has the right to conduct a search within the parameters provided in the warrant.  Only in rare circumstances will a police officer have a warrant to search your vehicle.  
    2.   PROBABLE CAUSE:  At the time of the traffic stop, the police officer decides whether he BELIEVES there is probable cause to search your vehicle.  Law related to probable cause for a search is complex and the the issue of whether a police officer had probable cause to search a vehicle varies on a case-by-case basis.  In many instances where an officer has conducted a search based on probable cause, an experienced criminal defense attorney will file a motion that alleges, among other things, the search was improper and will asks the court to not allow the evidence to be used at trial.
    3.   DRIVER PERMISSION:  A police officer may lawfully search your vehicle if you give him permission to do so.  

    A police officer will almost never have a search warrant to search your vehicle during a traffic stop. Also, in most cases, a police officer  will not have probable cause to search your vehicle.  Therefore, the most common means through which a police officer lawfully searches a vehicle occurs when the driver gives the police officer permission to search the vehicle. 

    A surprisingly large number of people give police officers permission to search their vehicle even when the person knows there may be incriminating evidence (e.g., illegal drugs, an illegal weapon, stolen property, empty beer cans, etc.) in the vehicle.  People often become nervous during a traffic stop.  Perhaps, this nervousness in part explains why people give permission to search under these circumstances. 

    If you are charged with a criminal offense based on evidence the police obtained during a search, it is possible an experienced criminal defense attorney can file a motion that alleges the search was unlawful and asks the judge to suppress the evidence.   Absent evidence seized during a search, the prosecutors may be unable to prove the charges against you.  In these circumstances, prosecutors or the judge may dismiss the case. 

    If you, or someone you know, has been arrested or charged with a crime, contact the D'Amore Law Firm to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with Tom D'Amore

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