(Maricopa County, Mohave County, Yavapai County, Santa Cruz County, Yuma County, Pima County, Pinal County, Apache County, Coconino County)
This general information is provided to the public to understand their rights and the issues that arise during a police stop of their vehicle and any searches therein.
Everyone who operates a motor vehicle on the roadways should be aware of their rights regarding any police officer stopping your car and then performing a search therein.
Under the law, police must have reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle. In other words, the circumstances surrounding the stop must support a justifiable suspicion that the person stopped was involved in criminal activity or committed a minor traffic violation. When officers perform traffic stops predicated on facts that neither constitute a violation of the law, nor constitute reasonable grounds to suspect the driver committed any offense, they run afoul of the constitutional Fourth Amendment.
Far too often, our firm has seen many cases where the police have had no reasonable suspicion to stop our clients’ vehicles. As a result, after filing motions to suppress and arguing the illegal stop in evidentiary hearings before many courts, we have been successful in having the cases completely dismissed. Always consider the reason of why the police stopped your vehicle and discuss this issue with attorneys to evaluate whether the stop was illegal and improper.
Secondly, a warrantless search of your vehicle after the police stop may be illegal. The police may claim that a search of your vehicle was necessary without a search warrant because of the issues involving immediate loss of evidence or officer safety were present. However, if these concerns are not present, your consent and/or a search warrant is required search your vehicle.
Keep in mind, following a police stop, when the scene is secured and the arrestee is handcuffed, placed into the back seat of a police car, the warrantless search of the arrestee’s car cannot be justified as necessary to protect the police or prevent the destruction of any evidence.
Some searches are allowed such as a search incident to an arrest of a vehicle of the area within an arrestee’s “immediate control.” This immediate control means the passenger’s compartment of the vehicle and also containers within this passenger compartment. Other searches, such as an inventory search may be upheld depending on the circumstances and other issues may arise as to whether the arrestee was a “recent occupant” of the vehicle.
In short, police stops of your car and any subsequent searches thereto may be complex and require thorough legal analysis and research by qualified criminal attorneys.
Alex & Associates, P.C., criminal attorneys are always available for a free consultation. Call their offices today and speak to an experienced trial attorney about your personal injuries.