If you have been stopped by the police, you know the feeling of panic that takes over. It can be hard to know the right thing to do or say, and many people feel they need to be as agreeable as possible when dealing with an armed officer. However, it is important to understand that when a police officer asks to search your vehicle, the answer should always be “No.”
Why Say No if the Police Ask to Search Your Car?
If the police ask to search your car, it is important to say no. If you remember one thing, remember this: if police could search your vehicle, they would. Police do not like asking for permission, so they will only ask if they absolutely need it. If police had probable cause or a search warrant, they would be able to search your vehicle without your permission, so if they are asking it means you actually are the gatekeeper in this situation.
The Implications of Consenting to a Police Search of Your Vehicle
As noted above, police need either probable cause, a search warrant, or consent to search your vehicle. If they do not ask for consent, this means that you can challenge the search on the basis of either probable cause or the validity of their search warrant in court. If there were issues with either of these–for instance, if the police pulled you over without a reason in the first place–then it can be a violation of your constitutional rights, and provide grounds for throwing out your case. However, if you consent to a search, even if you feel like you have no choice, and even if it turns out they did not have probable cause to pull you over in the first place, your consent dictates, and you lose the ability to challenge the stop on these other grounds.
Do Not Consent to a Limited Vehicle Search
Sometimes police may try to make their request for consent to search your vehicle seem casual. For instance, they may point to your trunk and just ask to take a peek. It is important to understand that giving access to any part of your car is giving access to all of your car. Police understand that they can easily turn a limited search into an unlimited search, so do not grant permission even to search a small part of the vehicle. If the police look in the trunk and find anything that gives rise to probable cause (such as grass or dust that could resemble drugs) it can give them grounds to expand the search to the rest of the car.
Talk to Coastal South Law
If you have been charged with possession of drugs or another criminal offense in North Carolina, you do not have to navigate the process alone. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Coastal South Law are ready to fight for your rights and the best possible outcome in your case. Contact Coastal South Law and schedule a consultation today.