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Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion

On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2019 | Domestic Violence, Firm News

criminal defense lawyer moorestown nj

When Law Enforcement Asks to Search Your Vehicle

Have you ever been pulled over by a traffic cop? Did he ask you if it was alright to search your vehicle? Understand that in most situations, it’s the driver themselves who have given police officers a right to search them simply by giving verbal consent. If you decline, then officers may not have a right to search you at all.

Reasonable suspicion and probable cause are two legal standards that attempt to balance the rights of individual citizens with the rights of law enforcement officers. Per the Constitution, every American has the right to remain free of unreasonable searches and seizures. Probable cause gives officers a legal right to search you, while reasonable suspicion provides enough of a basis to pull you over for a traffic stop. Below we’ll get into both legal standards in depth.

What is Reasonable Suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion gives officers the temporary right to detain and investigate a suspect. Reasonable suspicion means the officer has a valid reason for believing a crime has been, is being or will be committed by the suspect. This reason must be based on specific facts, and it can’t be an arbitrary hunch. Officers don’t need hard evidence to prove reasonable suspicion, but they do need to show a set of circumstances or facts that led them to believe a crime was imminent.

The best thing you can do when you’re unclear about your rights is to ask the officer, “am I free to leave, or am I being detained?”

Probable Cause Means a Right to Search, Seize or Arrest

Probable cause is different from reasonable suspicion because this legal standard is based on concrete evidence. If an officer wants to detain or search you, then they must have probable cause to do so. Reasonable suspicion isn’t enough to legally search, seize property or arrest someone. Digital searches, when an officer searches the digital identity associated with your vehicle, are a gray area of the law.

Were Your Rights Violated?

Were your rights violated during a traffic stop? Were you arrested or detained unjustly? If so, then it’s important to research your legal options.

Contact an Experienced Moorestown DWI Defense Attorney About Your Drunk Driving Charges in New Jersey

Did a police officer pull you over and ask to search your vehicle? A conviction could leave you with a permanent record, and it could result in your driver’s license being suspended for a very long time. That is why it is imperative that you speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer about your case. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen R. Piper represent clients charged with drunk driving, breath test refusal, and related offenses in Moorestown, Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County, Cumberland County, and throughout New Jersey. Call 856-333-3586 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation about your case.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.