Illegal Parking Ticket Lawyer in Fairfax, Virginia
There are various situations in which a police officer might pull you over while you are driving in Virginia. One reason is that the police officer may have run your license plate and found you had outstanding illegal parking tickets that you have not paid or maybe you did not use your turn signals when you were supposed to. Whatever the reason, the police have the right to pull you over as long as they have probable cause. An illegal parking ticket lawyer Fairfax VA clients recommend knows that probable cause is established when a police officer has reason to believe that you have violated the law or are involved in criminal activity.
When it comes to vehicle searches, the constitutionality of vehicle searches is often contested because of the Fourth Amendment. So, the question remains, when can a police officer legally search a vehicle during a traffic stop?
Fourth Amendment and Vehicle Searches
People have certain inherent rights that are given to them by the Constitution. One such right that is often brought up in criminal cases is the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment specifically states that no person has to consent to or is subject to a warrantless search without probable cause.
Consenting to a Search
When you are pulled over, the officer will likely ask you a few questions to determine if he or she has reason to believe that you have committed any crimes. Before the officer attempts to search your vehicle, they will usually ask you if they have your permission to do so. If the officer gets your permission to search your vehicle, they do not need to establish probable cause for any crime. As a traffic violation lawyer Fairfax VA drivers trust will explain, you should never consent to any searches of your vehicle.
Establishing Probable Cause
If you do not give the officer permission to search your vehicle, the officer has two options: they can obtain a warrant to search your vehicle or they can establish probable cause. Obtaining a warrant requires consulting with a judge and having them sign off on it. This usually takes time, which is why most officers will try to establish probable cause before they conduct a search. Probable cause can be established through the officer smelling or seeing contraband that is in plain view in your vehicle or if you admit to the officer that you are guilty of a certain crime.
Discuss Your Case with a Member of Our Legal Team
Being pulled over by the police can be a nerve-racking experience in any situation, no matter what you are pulled over for. If you are facing criminal charges that stemmed from a search conducted on your vehicle, you should speak with a knowledgeable Fairfax VA illegal parking ticket lawyer about your case. At May Law, we will thoroughly investigate your situation to determine if your rights were violated during your traffic stop. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation.