It is perfectly normal to feel anxiety if we look into our rear-view mirror to see flashing lights. We may reevaluate our day, perhaps we had a cocktail, beer, or glass of wine with dinner, or the car is a mess — are these things enough to raise questions? Maybe the officer sees these things or others that raise suspicions during the stop and asks to have a look.
What are we to do in this situation?
Can we say no?
What Are My Rights During a Stop?
If, during a stop, an officer asks for permission to search the vehicle we generally have the right to decline. We can say no.
This does not mean the officer will always listen. An officer may move forward and attempt to get a warrant. If they get a warrant, they can usually conduct a search without our permission.
What if I Think the Officer Violated My Rights?
If the officer conducted a search without permission or a warrant, they may have violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. Those who can build a successful case to establish that this right was violated can generally get any evidence collected during the unlawful search thrown out of court.
This could potentially result in the reduction or even dismissal of pending criminal charges.
Building a case for a violation of Fourth Amendment rights is not an easy matter to navigate but those who believe they are a victim can take action to protect their rights. An attorney experienced in this niche area of criminal law can review the case and provide guidance.