If you have been charged with a crime, you may think the situation is hopeless. Fortunately, you have many rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. By knowing and exercising these rights, you may be able to have evidence against you thrown out so it cannot hurt your case. One of the most important rights you have is to be free from unlawful search and seizure. Below, our Michigan criminal defense lawyer explains when police can legally search your car and when they cannot.
The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. A search involves an inspection of any location you consider to be private. In order to search these areas, police officers must have probable cause that you committed or that you are going to commit a crime. A seizure, on the other hand, occurs when police officers collect evidence they find during a search and move it off the property.
If the police want to search property that is considered to be private, such as your home, they must have probable cause that you have committed a crime. They must also obtain a warrant from a judge after explaining why they have probable cause to conduct a search. Only when police officers have probable cause and a search warrant can they conduct a search of your private property. However, the law becomes a bit more complex when police want to search your car.
You still have the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure when you are in your vehicle, but the rules do become a bit more complex.
First and foremost, police officers cannot stop your vehicle without reason. They must have reasonable suspicion, or a legitimate reason, to pull you over. For example, if a police officer noticed you weaving in and out of traffic lanes, that could provide them with a reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence.
After a police officer has pulled you over, they can legally conduct a search of your vehicle if they have probable cause that you committed a crime. For example, if the officer saw a weapon or smelled marijuana coming from the car, that could provide them with portable cause to conduct a legal search. Additionally, if police arrest you, they can conduct a search of anything that was in your immediate control, including your vehicle and even your backpack.
Lastly, if you consent to a search of your vehicle, it is lawful even if the officer does not have probable cause. For this reason, you should always say as little as possible to the police and never consent to a search of your vehicle.
Facing criminal charges is scary, but there are defenses available, particularly if police conduct an illegal search of your vehicle. At Lucido & Manzella, P.C., our Michigan criminal defense lawyer can advise on the facts of your case, prove a search was unlawful, and have evidence against you thrown out. Call us now or contact us online to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you beat your charges.
We offer a free initial consultation so you will get an opportunity to meet us, and we will have an opportunity to learn more about your legal issue.
Mr. Manzella represents businessman William Weber, who admitted to falsifying an invoice at ex-Macomb prosecutor Eric Smith’s request. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner, with felony offenses dismissed during the sentencing.
L’Tonya Marie Payne, a 51-year-old black woman, is facing misdemeanor assault charges following an altercation. The complaining witness, who is white, stated the police would not believe Ms. Payne due to her skin color. Attorney Vince Manzella is working alongside Ms. Payne to fight these allegations, as she was arrested simply on the basis of the witness’s word.
Joseph Wolf, former director of the Detroit Stars, was sentenced to two years of supervised probation. Wolf pleaded guilty to embezzling funds from the nonprofit youth baseball league. Typically, the felony count can result in up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $15,000, and other charges, but Lucido & Manzella, P.C. was able to help the client receive a reduced sentence.
Charles Frontera, a former Roseville city councilman, was sentenced to a year of probation after a misdemeanor charge was dismissed at sentencing. During a pretrial conference, Mr. Frontera pleaded guilty to substance possession, and in doing so, Attorney Manzella was able to protect the client from severe charges.