Was the search of your vehicle legal?
When an officer pulls you over, your mind might start racing to try to figure out what you did. However, in Texas, you also need to be concerned about what smells might be coming from your car.
In states like Texas, an officer smelling marijuana is still grounds for them to search your car. Anything they discover can be evidence in court, which means you may be facing charges more serious than a traffic ticket.
For an officer to pull you over, they must have reasonable suspicion that either a crime occurred or you violated a traffic law. This could include speeding, broken taillight or not staying in your lane.
It all comes back to probable cause
After pulling you over, if the officer has probable cause to believe you committed a crime, they may search your vehicle. The question becomes whether that search was a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.
The Fourth Amendment protects you against unlawful search
and seizure, including:
- Searches of items or places where you have a legitimate expectation of privacy, including person, residency, luggage, clothing or vehicle
- An officer’s seizure of you by way of an arrest
The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized an exception to this when it comes to vehicles. Officers may be able to perform a warrantless search on a vehicle if there is reason to believe it has hidden contraband or evidence of a crime.
If an officer does not have a warrant, a valid reason or your permission to search the vehicle they may have infringed on your rights. A skilled defense attorney can examine your case to see if your Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
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