Did the Police Really Have a Valid Reason to Search Your Car?
The police searched your car, and they found drugs, so you are guilty, right? Does this mean that your lawyer should focus on getting you a plea deal instead of fighting your charges or trying to get them dropped? Not always. Just because the police found drugs in your car does not mean that they had any business looking for them. The law does not give anyone, not even the police, the right to search through other people’s property without a good reason. Law enforcement can only search your house if they have a warrant; there are exceptions for searching cars, but the law clearly specifies what they are. If you are not sure whether the police were within their rights to search your car, chances are that they were not. The sooner you discuss the matter with a Central Florida drug crimes defense lawyer, the better.
What Are the Reasons Why a Police Officer Can Search Your Car?
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects against unlawful search and seizure, which means that the police cannot search or confiscate your property without a warrant. Under some circumstances, the police can search your vehicle without a warrant. These are the times where police have the right to conduct warrantless searches of cars:
- You have given the officer consent to search your car. (Just because an officer asks to search your car, you are not legally obligated to give content.)
- The officer has probable cause, meaning that there is evidence of a crime in your car, such as illegal drugs in plain view.
- The officer has reason to believe that you are a threat to the officer’s safety, for example if the officer believes you have a hidden weapon.
- You are already under arrest, and the search is related to that arrest.
As you can see, some of these criteria are subjective. The prosecution might argue that there was reason to believe that you were a threat, when in fact, the police unfairly targeted you.
Bystanders’ Concern Leads to Arrest for Drug Possession
In November 2019, a driver flagged down a police officer in Lantana and expressed concern about a nearby car. The car was parked, but the engine was running, and the woman in the driver’s seat appeared to be asleep. When the police approached the parked car, its driver, Natalie Spooner, admitted that she had been drinking alcohol. She said that she did not have drugs in the car and gave the police permission to search the vehicle. The police found substances that were later identified as cocaine and Xanax. Spooner was charged with possession of controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Let Us Help You Today
A Florida drug offense lawyer can help you fight your criminal charges if the police used a flimsy excuse to search your car and find drugs. Contact FL Drug Defense Group for a consultation.