The sound of sirens blaring behind you is often one of the most stressful and overwhelming sounds a person can hear while driving. In fact, the whole experience of being pulled to the side of the road is intimidating and even a bit scary, especially once the officer asks to search your vehicle. If you already in a state of panic and are unsure of your rights, this scenario can go downhill rather rapidly.
It is critical to always know your rights in any given situation. Unfortunately, much of our knowledge and perception of the law comes from stories we have heard, what we see on TV, or even on the news, which is not always accurate. We have put together a list of some of the most prevalent myths regarding vehicle searches in South Carolina, which should help provide the knowledge you need if you ever find yourself in this type of situation.
Myth: If I do not consent to a police officer’s request to search my vehicle, it makes me look guilty.
- Exercising your legal right to refuse a search is not an admission of guilt and will not mean you are guilty of a crime. Even if the officer tries to suggest that your refusal means you have something to hide, remember that he or she is just trying to trick you into acquiescing to their request. There is nothing wrong with politely exercising your right to decline a search of your vehicle. The state is not permitted to argue that invoking your rights makes you look guilty.
Myth: If I were to consent to a search of my vehicle, it would not include my trunk.
- Consenting to a vehicle search means the officer can search your entire car, including the trunk. Don’t ever consent to a search of your car. Once you have consented, it is virtually impossible to challenge the search. If they search without your consent, all of your rights can be preserved and I will be able to argue to suppress the evidence.
Myth: The police officer will just get a warrant after I refuse to consent to a search.
- Law enforcement officials need probable cause before a magistrate will sign off on a search warrant. That said, if an officer has probable cause or reason to believe that there is evidence of a crime in your vehicle, a search warrant is not required. Vehicles are exempted from the search warrant requirement due to the fact that they are mobile and there is a high risk that the evidence will be destroyed. Without probable cause, a law enforcement officer cannot search your vehicle.
Myth: If I am a passenger in a car that is stopped by law enforcement officers and I do not own the car, the police cannot search my belongings.
- If officers believe that they have probable cause to search the vehicle, law enforcement officers will search your belongings and any other area, object, or person they believe can conceal what they are searching for. It does not matter what belongs to whom. Remain silent and we can challenge the officer’s probable cause and mover to suppress the evidence. Do not admit or deny anything.
Myth: If the police find evidence of a crime in my vehicle, I should just confess.
- You have the right to remain silent, so you should absolutely use it rather than start making statements. No matter what law enforcement officers find, stay silent and do not answer any questions without an attorney.
Drug Crimes in Greenville
If you are facing charges for a drug-related crime, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney to ensure your rights are protected. At Hisker Law Firm, PC, our knowledgeable team of criminal defense team in Greenville has more than 20 years of experience representing clients facing these types of charges and will do what is necessary to secure the best possible results for you.
Get started on defending your future and give us a call at (864) 610-1277 to schedule an initial consultation.