If you are facing a drug charge after a car search, you may be wondering about that car search – and about whether or not the police had the right to search your car in the first place. You’ve been pulled over for speeding or for some other traffic infraction, but do you have the right to say no to a search? If the officer in question is basing his or her search on a hunch (which is often the case), you do have the right, and you should exercise it.
The Police and How to Handle Them
The best policy when it comes to the police is not to get pulled over in the first place, but with police on the lookout for any excuse, this is far easier said than done. If you are pulled over for a traffic ticket or anything else, there are some things you can do to help protect your rights from the outset, including:
Remain as calm and polite as you possibly can.
If you are ticketed, accept it without argument (you can deal with the ticket itself later).
If the officer asks you any questions related to the ticket, refrain from answering. For example, if the officer asks about your speed, you can let him or her know that you would prefer to exercise your right not to incriminate yourself. Ultimately, anything you say can be used against you, so less is always more.
If the officer asks for permission to search your vehicle, the correct response is a polite but firm no. Allowing the officer to search makes the search legal in the first place, which makes your case much harder to defend in the end.
If the officer proceeds to search your car anyway, you should note your dissent but shouldn’t argue with him or her on the matter. You can, however, fight the legality of the search when the time comes.
Do not, however, cave in to a request to search your vehicle that is couched as an order. If there is a question involved – regardless of how forcefully it is asked – it is a request, and your answer should be no.
Being pulled over by the police typically isn’t calming, and being polite is probably a far cry from your natural reaction – but adopting this approach is almost certainly in your best interest.
Asserting Your Rights
The most important point to make regarding a police search of your vehicle is that the Fourth Amendment protects you from unlawful search and seizure. For an officer to search your car legally, he or she must see, smell, or hear signs of a crime taking place (such as signs that you have drugs on or with you). The only recourse you have is to deny any and all requests to search your vehicle, and you should make this your policy.
Seek the Skilled Guidance of an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – serving Killeen, Texas – is an accomplished criminal defense attorney who is fully on your side and here to offer help. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.