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What you need to know about searches and seizures

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2021 | College Student Criminal Defense

Georgia is much like any other state in that many drug charges result from a relatively minor traffic stop. A police officer might smell or see something suspicious in the detained motorist’s car or notice that a driver is unusually anxious so the officer asks to search their vehicle.

Motorists may not be clear about their rights when confronted with this question, resulting in police discovering an alleged illicit substance.

Your rights when a police officer pulls you over

Many law enforcement officers will initiate their conversation with you by asking you to conjecture about why they stopped you. Anything that you say can be incriminating, so it may be in your best interest not to respond to such a question. Engaging in small talk may also put both you and them at ease and result in their issuing you a warning. You’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of each approach based on the circumstances, however.

A police officer will likely ask you to step outside your vehicle and search your vehicle if they suspect that you’re under the influence of alcohol or hiding a gun or drugs inside your car. Know that they look through your entire vehicle if you consent to a search of it at all. You must understand that there’s no implication that you’re complying just because you remain quiet, though.

You should also know that, while you may think that a law enforcement officer must first request your consent to search your car, they don’t always have to. Existing laws allow them to do so if they have reasonable suspicion that you have something dangerous or illegal in your car. Drugs and guns would both fit this bill. These same laws may allow police to go into a locked glove box or truck as well.

Virtually every jurisdictions’ laws allow police to thoroughly search your vehicle without having to first get your consent once they impound it. They must take an inventory of anything they find when doing so.

Why the circumstances under which a search occurred matters

You may be able to petition a judge to throw out the evidence in your case, depending on how events occurred. An attorney can advise you whether that’s an option in your Carrollton case and which other defense strategies you may be able to employ if not.

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