Can Police Search My Car?
Being pulled over by police can be a terrifying experience. It can be hard to remember, through all the stress and adrenaline, what your rights are and what you are allowed to refuse to do. The most important thing to remember is that police will not ask to do anything that they already have the authority to do.
Why to Say No to a Search
First of all, it is important to be able to recognize when you are being asked to consent to a search. It is not always asked formally, in fact, it will probably be asked very casually, in hopes of getting you to agree off-handedly. For instance, officers will often ask, “Mind if I take a peek in the trunk?” “Can I see what’s in your back seat?” In the heat of the moment, sometimes people think they will gain favor or seem more cooperative if they consent to a search. Others may feel like even though they are being asked for permission, they do not actually have the right to say no. However, if police are asking to search your car, you do not gain anything by consenting, even if you are certain there are no drugs or contraband in your car.
If you give police permission to look in your trunk, it risks giving them the room to come up with probable cause to search the rest of your vehicle. It is a “give an inch, take a mile,” situation, and it is best just not to give. If police have probable cause to search your vehicle, they will do so without your permission.
Evidentiary Benefits of Declining to Consent to a Search
Legally, there are also benefits to declining to consent to a search. If you are charged with a crime (e.g. possession) based on evidence that the police procure during a search that you consented to, while you can still challenge the evidence (ex. Challenging that the drugs are actually drugs), you cannot challenge the validity of a search to which you consented. However, if, on the other hand, you did not consent to a search, you can challenge the basis on which the police decided to search you and let the court decide if it is valid. If it is found that the police did not actually have probable cause of valid grounds to execute a search, then all evidence found as a result of the illegal search will be thrown out and the resulting charges dismissed because it is seen as “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
Schedule a Consultation
If you have been charged with an offense based on an illegal search, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Coastal South Law are here to help. Do not underestimate the power of having zealous and experienced legal counsel on your side. If you are facing criminal charges in North Carolina, do not waste any more time before consulting with an attorney. The state prosecutors know what they are doing. It is important to correct the imbalance of power and ensure that you get the fair representation that you are entitled to. Contact Coastal South Law and schedule a consultation today.