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Handling a request to search during a traffic stop

For some people, having to come into contact with the police is an exercise in patience. For others, fear and anger abound because of the inclination to defend yourself as soon as officers contact you. Generally, it is best to try to remain calm if you are stopped by officers. There are a few other pointers that might help you deal with officers if you are pulled over.

In some cases, it is best to exercise your right to remain silent. If you choose this option, remember that it won't stop an officer from doing certain things. An example of this would be if you remain silent when asked if the officer can search your vehicle. The officer might cite reasonable suspicion or have another officer obtain a search warrant to search your vehicle. In that case, or if your car is impounded, a search can be conducted.

Not consenting to a search when requested is sometimes a good course of action. If you don't consent to a search, you might have the basis to challenge the search later on. An example of this occurred in a case that recently came to light. A man was stopped by an officer for jaywalking; however, his actions weren't legally considered jaywalking.

Since the man didn't commit a crime, the police officer's search of him wasn't considered legal. The charges placed against him, including a felon in possession of a gun charge and federal drug trafficking charges, were dropped on the basis of an illegal search and seizure.

There is no guarantee that police officers will do something that enables every case to be dismissed. Still, it is vital that every step pertaining to a case is examined thoroughly to determine if your rights were violated in a way that would affect your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Police Traffic Stops and Vehicle Searches: FAQs," accessed Aug. 10, 2015

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