Your Rights During a Police Stop
Imagine you are driving on California State Route 91 one night when you get pulled over by a state trooper. The officer orders you to get out of your car so he can search it. What should you do?
At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, I have been defending the civil rights of Riverside residents for more than 10 years. When the police have violated your rights, I will fight to get any evidence gathered as a result of an illegal search thrown out of court.Traffic Stops and the Bill of Rights
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures" of your person and property by law enforcement. The law has evolved to include this important protection when it comes to your vehicle. First, police must have probable cause to reasonably believe a crime has occurred or is occurring before he or she may stop your vehicle.
Once you have been pulled over, in general the officer is not permitted to search your car unless one of the following occurs:
- You consent to the search;
- The officer has probable cause to suspect there is incriminating evidence in the car;
- The officer reasonably believes the search is necessary for his or her own safety; or
- The officer has placed you under arrest.
Remember, you do not have to consent to a search just because a police officer asks. There are also laws regarding when and how officers can use a police dog sniff to justify a search for drugs. These laws are very important, because they restrain police overreach.Asserting Your Rights at Trial
These rights are a vital part of our democracy, but it is often difficult to enforce your Fourth Amendment rights while a traffic stop is in progress. Instead, you may need a lawyer to help you fight for your rights in court later on. As your defense attorney, I will use procedural violations by the police as leverage. It may be possible to get some or all of the prosecution's evidence thrown out as illegally obtained.
If you believe your rights were violated during a traffic stop that led to drug charges against you, call my office right away at 951-686-3457, or email me. I offer free initial consultations and Spanish translation services.