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Do I Have the Right to Refuse a Car Search by Police?

If you are pulled over and the police ask to search your car, can you refuse? If they do not have probable cause, the answer is yes, you can absolutely refuse the search.

What is probable cause?

Probable cause is the legal standard police officers follow which allows them to conduct a search of a person's property or vehicle, make an arrest, or seek out an arrest warrant. In order to claim probable cause, an officer must have facts that show reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The police cannot search based off of a hunch, they must see real evidence.

What are some examples of probable cause?

While not an extensive list, these are some of the reasons why a police officer would have probable cause to search your vehicle:

  • Seeing contraband items, such as open alcoholic containers or drugs
  • Smelling contraband items, such as alcohol or marijuana
  • Admission of guilt

Instances that are not considered probable cause in and of themselves include speeding, having a broken headlight, or expired registration.

You Do Not Have to Submit To a Search

It is important to realize that unless an officer has probable cause, you do not have to give consent to a search. Even if it makes the officer upset, you have this right under the 4th Amendment and it may be in your best interest to execute it.

Motion to Suppress

Should an officer search your car despite your refusal, your criminal defense attorney can file for a motion to suppress for any information they found while performing the search. If the judge agrees that the search violated your constitutional rights, they will throw out the evidence and your case may be dismissed if there is no other evidence.

If you have been arrested in Fresno, retain the qualified Fresno criminal lawyers that you need to protect your rights both in and out of court. Call Andritch & Aed today

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