February 23, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- When police suspect that a crime has been committed, they commonly conduct a search and seizure by searching a person's property and confiscating any evidence that's correlated to the alleged crime. However, there are certain restrictions around search and seizures, particularly when it involves a DUI stop
and vehicle search.
Under the 4th amendment to the United States Constitution the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..." Therefore officers of the law cannot simply search an individual's property without following proper procedures.
Throughout the years, the courts have laid out interpretations of unlawful searches and seizures based on particular facts and circumstances and have provided definitions of what constitutes a "search" and what is considered a "seizure" for 4th amendment purposes.
What constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure?
Generally, a "search" occurs when there is an infringement of a person's expectation of privacy, or generally what's widely considered one by the public. A "seizure" takes place when there is a "meaningful interference with an individual's possessory interest in that property."
Contrary to popular belief, a warrant is not needed for all search and seizures. Courts have determined that when an individual doesn't possess a "reasonable expectation of privacy," the government can essentially interfere and search with no warrant needed.
Courts have ruled throughout the years that people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy under certain circumstances. One such example involves vehicles and is known as the "automobile exception."
Under this rule, police are allowed to search a motor vehicle without a search warrant if the officer has what's known as "probable cause" to believe that there is evidence or contraband located inside the car. This search expands to allow officers to search containers found inside a vehicle, contents that don't necessary belong to the owner or driver of the car, such as the purse of a passenger in the car, and the search of a vehicle's trunk.
"Probable cause" generally means that an officer has "a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person's belief that certain facts are probably true." For instance, if an officer pulls over a car for suspected DUI
because the driver was driving erratically, approaches the car and smells alcohol or drugs emanating from the vehicle, this could give the officer probable cause to conduct a search. However, officers cannot simply search a vehicle after pulling over a car for a routine traffic infraction like running a stop sign.
Typically, traffic violations aren't seen as generally being tied to a criminal activity.
Rule of thumb
Generally, drivers and passengers are encouraged to abide by this rule of thumb: Don't put anything in a vehicle (including the trunk) that you would want the police to get their hands on.
There is enough at stake for those pulled over for suspected DUI. Officers that find additional contraband only adds more stress and potential repercussions by an accused.
Article provided by The Law Offices of Michael L. Davidson
Visit us at www.bayareadefenseattorneys.com---
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