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Seizing opportunities to challenge faulty vehicle searches

If you're one of many North Carolina college students who just rocked their final exams and are excited to finally be winding down another school semester, you may also be one of many who have plans to hit the beach in celebration of a successful academic year. Traffic on state highways is often heavy in early June due to many out-of-state visitors heading to the Outer Banks and other scenic regions for vacations. You're undoubtedly already aware of the need to drive safely.

However, if you happen to get pulled over while you and your friends are making your way to those prime waves and sandy shores, you definitely wouldn't be the first (or the last) to encounter such a predicament. Many such situations resolve themselves quickly and without any negative repercussion beyond a minor warning or other instruction from a police officer. Other times, not so much. In fact, the slightest change of events during a traffic stop can turn an uneventful moment into a serious criminal matter.

Knowing your rights may help mitigate circumstances

Firstly, it's important to understand that, the moment a police officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, he or she is going to detain you. What happens from that point on may bear significant impact on the ultimate outcome. Remembering the following may help you successfully navigate a problematic situation:

  • The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects you from unlawful searches and seizures.
  • The Fifth Amendment allows you to invoke your right to silence so as not to speak in any way to incriminate yourself.
  • You may request legal representation any time the authorities question you.

It's generally quite unnerving if a police officer says you are suspected of drunk driving or some other crime while all your friends are sitting in your vehicle, witnessing the events as they unfold (although their testimonies could later come in handy if a personal rights violation takes place). Even if one files charges against you, remembering that mere accusation does not constitute guilt in a court of law may help you remain calm and choose an appropriate course of action to rectify the situation.

Searching without warrants

Under normal circumstances, you do not have to allow a police officer to rummage around inside your car or search your person without first producing a valid warrant to do so. However, the following situations do allow for warrant-less searches:

  • If you give verbal permission to search your personal property, person or premises, a police officer no longer needs a search warrant.
  • If an officer claims to believe there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing inside your car, he or she may conduct a search-without-warrant.
  • If an officer has already arrested you, it is appropriate for any type of search connected to the arrest to occur.
  • If an officer claims to feel threatened or believes you are somehow placing the public at large in danger, he or she may conduct a search.

Drunk driving, illegal drug possession, possession with intent to distribute, etc., are all serious charges that can be quite challenging to overcome in court. Therefore, it's best to gain full understanding of your rights so you can easily recognize any violation of those rights that takes place. Many people sought assistance to challenge proffered evidence when authorities somehow violated protocol in gathering said evidence.

An experienced criminal defense attorney knows what to look for and can help you choose the best options for submitting a challenge to the court in relation to any criminal charges filed against you in Texas.

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Seizing opportunities to challenge faulty vehicle searches | Messer Law Firm