There are few things in life that cause stress like being pulled over by the police. If you are driving and have to stop your vehicle to answer an officer's questions, you may feel intimidated. This anxiety is certainly justified if the officer is trying to determine if you are in possession of illegal narcotics.
If you should ever find yourself in this position, it is important to maintain your composure. It is also very helpful if you understand your rights regarding search and seizure laws. In spite of any tactics the police may attempt to employ during a stop, they are still required to grant you your rights as stated in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In order to search your vehicle without a warrant, one of these conditions must exist:
- You have been placed under arrest.
- The officer at the scene has a reasonable belief that you may be in possession of a weapon or are in some other way a threat.
- The police have a suspicion based on probable cause that your vehicle contains incriminating evidence of criminal activity.
- You give your consent for a search of the vehicle.
In addition, the so-called "plain view doctrine" gives police the right to perform a search if they see evidence, say a baggie of marijuana, inside the vehicle. However, the plain view doctrine has specific boundaries that the police cannot cross.
If, during a drug-related arrest, the authorities fail to give you your rights, then it is possible that any evidence collected may be inadmissible in court. If you are ever charged with a drug crime, you might benefit greatly from the representation of a criminal attorney. An attorney could go over the arrest record and collect other evidence in an effort to help you achieve a positive outcome.