Was your vehicle searched without your consent and you believe the officer conducting the search did not have probable cause? When a person is pulled over or questioned by a police officer, they usually need what is referred to as probable cause to initiate any sort of conversing than could possibly incriminate you. And if an officer feels there may be something in your vehicle that is illegal to have in your possession, they can sometimes conduct a search with or without a search warrant.
To help you gain a better understanding of this, below are some laws and codes of Virginia that better explain what your rights are as a citizen and when search and seizure is applicable.
You Have Rights, Don’t Forget About Them
The most important thing to be cognizant of is your rights. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals against unlawful search and seizure and prohibits arbitrary vehicle searches by officers. Of course, there are many cases where an individual has felt their rights have been violated which is why they then elect to hire a criminal defense attorney in Virginia to represent them and prove they were not treated equally or fairly regardless of the fact that they may have had something in their possession that was illegal.
On the other hand, police do have a duty they must fulfill and that is keeping the community safe and people who are guilty of committing a crime off the streets. With that being said, they are entitled to stop you if you break a traffic law and search your vehicle if that routine traffic stop became a serious matter. Perhaps you were swerving and the officer smelled alcohol on your breath. They may then want to search the vehicle to see if there are any bottles of alcohol or drugs present in the vehicle.
When Can a Search Warrant be Issued?
According to Virginia Law § 19.2-52, “search warrants, based upon complaint on oath supported by an affidavit as required in § 19.2-54, may be issued by any judge, magistrate or other person having authority to issue criminal warrants, if he be satisfied from such complaint and affidavit that there is reasonable and probable cause for the issuance of such search warrant.”
And when a search warrant is issued, certain things can be seized in the process based on the laws described in § 19.2-53. Some things a police officer can take possession of include:
- Weapons or other objects used in the commission of crime.
- Articles or things that are intended for sale or possession of which is unlawful
- Stolen property
- Any object, thing, or person, including without limitation, documents, books, papers, records or body fluids, constituting evidence of the commission of crime.
When Can a Police Officer Search My Vehicle Without a Warrant?
- If you have given your consent for the officer to do so.
- If the officer has probable cause to believe your vehicle contains something that is illegal.
- You have been arrested and it is believed that there is something in your vehicle that works in conjunction with your arrest.
- An officer feels unsafe and feels the need to search your vehicle to ensure their life isn’t at risk.
If you have recently been arrested or have further questions regarding a criminal matter, contact a Virginia defense lawyer right here on site who will be more than happy to assist you.