How to keep cops from searching your vehicle

Posted by Craig Penrod | Jan 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

While law enforcement officer generally need a warrant approved by a judge in order to search you or your property, during a traffic stop, a law enforcement officer only needs probable cause to legally search your vehicle. Probable cause means that law enforcement officers must have some facts or evidence to believe you're involved in criminal activity.

In other words, a hunch by a law enforcement officer without any evidence of illegal activity is not enough to legally conduct a search of your vehicle. In Tempe, Phoenix or other communities in Maricopa County, it is important that you consult experienced Arizona DUI lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

Before conducting a search, the officer must observe something that is real. Common examples of probable cause that would allow law enforcement to conduct a search without a warrant include the sight or smell of contraband in plain view or plain smell or the admission of guilt for a specific crime. Any of these facts would provide a law enforcement officer to conduct a search and to make an arrest should evidence of a crime be discovered. Be aware that minor traffic violations, such as speeding, a broken tail-light or an expired vehicle registration, are not considered to be probable cause.

Simply understanding the legal definition of probable cause probably won't be enough to prepare you for the pressure and confusion during a real encounter with law enforcement. Most law enforcement officers are able to exploit a major loophole to requirement to conduct a search based upon probable cause that a crime has been committed. If you follow these basic rules, you will be better able to prevent law enforcement officers from tricking you into giving up your constitutional rights against a search of yourself and your vehicle.

Always be calm and cool. If law enforcement officers signal you to pull over do so immediately. Turn off your car and place your hands on the steering wheel. Law enforcement officers like to see where your hands are in order to assure their own safety. Wait until you are asked to provide your paperwork before reaching for it. At night, it's also a good idea to turn on the dome light, to allow the officer to see that you are not armed.

Always greet law enforcement officers with the title "officer." Under no circumstances should you ever talk back, raise your voice or use profanity with a law enforcement officer. If you are hostile with officers you are just being stupid and it's a dangerous game that you can't win. Should the officer write you a citation, accept it without any complaints. Pay attention to his verbal instructions regarding payment of the fine or the process for contesting the citation. Simply drive away slowly after the officer informs you that it is appropriate to do so.

By remaining silent what you don't say can't hurt you. Law enforcement officers may try to coerce you into admitting to having broken a law. You may assert your to self-incrimination under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by refusing to concede that you might have broken a law. As such, the best answer to that and similar questions is simply, no. Because anything you say can and will be used against you in court, the less you say the better. You also have the right to request to speak privately with legal counsel. Until you are allow to discuss your situation with an attorney just remain quiet and as calm as possible.

You have the right to refuse any requests to conduct a search. Law enforcement officers have a right to order the driver and any passengers out of the vehicle. If this happens, step out of the vehicle. If they have reasonable suspicion to detain you, law enforcement officers may conduct a routine check of the outside of your clothing in order to determine if there are any weapons. They will conduct this search only if there is a basis for suspecting that you are armed.

It is important that your DUI legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. Our office offers free consultations for all DUI and criminal matters. Our Arizona DUI attorneys and Arizona criminal lawyers can provide you with the experience and knowledge needed for qualified representation. An experienced Arizona DUI lawyer is vital in DUI cases and our DUI attorneys set that standard. If you're in need of a criminal defense, our Arizona criminal attorneys are ready to assist you.

About the Author

Craig Penrod

Craig W. Penrod was born and raised in Arizona and has practiced criminal defense for over 30 years. Mr. Penrod is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, Maricopa County Bar Association, State of Nevada Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.


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