When a police officer makes a traffic stop or conducts a vehicle search, they have to do so within the parameters of the law. Talk to a lawyer if you believe your rights were violated.
Making routine traffic stops when drivers are performing illegal maneuvers is part of a police officer’s job. As part of those routine stops, a police officer may have cause to conduct a vehicle search. In fact, one of a trooper’s main jobs may be highway interdiction, a practice that involves spotting drugs that are traveling along the state’s roads and highways, so vehicle searches are routine practice.
As common as vehicle stops and searches may be, they are not always legal. Indeed, Georgia state troopers and other police officers sometimes conduct illegal searches. If you have been the victim of an illegal search, talk to an attorney about your rights and options.
Can a Police Officer Legally Stop You and Search Your Vehicle?
Police officers can stop your car if they have reasonable suspicion to do so. This standard requires a relatively low degree of evidence to support. For example, traveling a few miles over the speed limit or failing to have updated registration is enough to warrant a traffic stop.
In order to conduct a search of your vehicle, though, a much higher standard of proof is required — probable cause. Probable cause means that a police officer has evidence to support the belief that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed. For example, if a police officer smells drugs or sees an open bottle of alcohol within your vehicle, they likely have probable cause to search your vehicle.
If an officer does not have probable cause, then they cannot search your vehicle unless you give them your permission to do so. If a police officer asks to search your vehicle, you can and should say no.
What are Your Options if You Were Illegally Stopped and Searched?
In a criminal case, the way in which evidence is obtained against a defendant can have a big impact on the outcome. If evidence was unlawfully obtained, such as is the case when it is obtained through illegal search and seizure, the judge in the case will have an obligation to suppress the evidence. If there is no evidence that can be submitted to the court and used against a defendant, then, the charges may be dropped.
In some cases, you may also be able to bring a lawsuit against the government if an illegal search and seizure has led to injuries.
Call Our Experienced Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
If you have been subject to an illegal traffic stop or/and an illegal search of your vehicle, and if you are facing criminal charges as a result of that search, you need an attorney on your side immediately. Our experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyers know how to file motions to have evidence suppressed and to protect our clients’ rights. To learn more about your options and how we can support you when you are facing charges, please call our lawyers directly today or send us a message at your convenience.