4701 Oleander Drive, Suite A
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
“Come back with a warrant!” Is a phrase that we hear often in movies, on social media, and in YouTube videos.
What about when a police officer is asking for consent to search your car? Or when a police officer is telling you to step out of the vehicle and says he doesn’t need your consent to search?
The truth is police never need a search warrant if they have probable cause to search your car during a traffic stop. They do need to have probable cause to search for evidence of a crime, but they only need what is called a “reasonable suspicion” to search for weapons on your person or in your vehicle.
I’ve seen several YouTube videos where individuals proclaim that police must get a search warrant before searching your vehicle or the trunk of your vehicle – this is terrible advice that can only make a bad situation worse if you demand that an officer get a warrant.
There are two situations when an officer can search your car during a traffic stop:
Because automobiles, or any motorized vehicle, are mobile, the courts have found that there is an inherent danger of destruction of evidence in a motor vehicle. Officers do not need to leave, obtain a search warrant, and then return to search your vehicle. If the officer determines that there is probable cause, they can immediately search the car and a court will review their probable cause determination later if you challenge it.
The legal standard of “reasonable suspicion” is a lower standard than “probable cause.” When an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person is armed and dangerous, they can legally search for weapons on your person or in your car. Citing officers’ safety concerns, the United States Supreme Court has held that an officer may:
Reasonable suspicion means a “reasonable, articulable suspicion.” The officer must be able to articulate the basis of their suspicion and their explanation must be reasonable. A search based on a reasonable suspicion can easily turn into probable cause if the officer sees (plain view exception) or feels (plain feel exception) contraband or other evidence of a crime.
Police never need a warrant to search a vehicle during a traffic stop, but there are still limits on when and how an officer can search your car. Your Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyer at Axelrod and Associates will get the evidence in your case including the officers’ reports and video of the traffic stop, and we will find all possible grounds to exclude the evidence in your case.
If your car was searched by police in Myrtle Beach or Conway SC, schedule a free consultation with a Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyer on the Axelrod team. Call us at 843-916-9300 or fill out our contact form today.
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