At some point in every driver’s life, they will likely be stopped by the police. The overwhelming majority of those stops are for genuinely minor reasons: reasons like failing to use your turn signal, a burnt-out brake light, or an expired license plate. However, if the police have any reason to suspect that you might be guilty of something more than a traffic infraction, that simple traffic stop can rapidly escalate into something much more serious. If you are suspected of a crime under these circumstances, it’s imperative to know and exercise your legal rights. And if you’re arrested for any reason after being pulled over by the police, contact our experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyers as quickly as possible.

When Can the Police Search You?

When are the police legally allowed to search your car? Police searches of automobiles are always a controversial legal issue. Driving is regulated by law and takes place in public, so a car has less legal protection from police searches than a home does. Constitutionally and legally, precisely where is the line? In most cases, police officers really don’t need the warrant to search your vehicle. If you are charged with a crime in New York City or near the area, after a search of your car, truck, or van, get immediate help and call a knowledgeable Long Island criminal defense attorney. 

Vehicle searches by the police are strictly governed. If the police stop you and believe that you are armed, you can be asked to step from the vehicle and you can be searched. The courts allow police officers to ensure their own safety. If illegal drugs or other contraband are discovered during this kind of a pat-down, the items can be confiscated, you can be charged, and your rights have not been violated.

Your vehicle itself can be searched if the police believe that they are in danger. If they have “reasonable cause” to believe that your vehicle contains evidence relating to a crime, they may also search your vehicle without a warrant. A “hunch” isn’t enough, but your answers to an officer’s questions could (plausibly) provide probable cause, so it’s wise to exercise your right to remain silent. Probable cause can also come from 911 calls, informants, or police observations of the vehicle. A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court now allows the police to stop anyone solely on the basis of an anonymous, unconfirmed tip.

The police also have the right to search impounded vehicles.

If you are arrested and then charged with a specific crime on the basis of a traffic stop and vehicle search, one possible defense is that the “reasonable cause” was not at all reasonable. You’ll need an attorney who routinely handles criminal cases involving traffic stops.

If you are asked to consent to a search of your vehicle, politely refuse. Always be as friendly and cooperative as possible with the police while vigilantly guarding and exercising your rights. If you give your permission, the results of the search will be admissible in court, even if there’s no initial probable cause for a search. Of course, if you are stopped for a routine traffic offense and an officer sees evidence (such as firearms, drugs, or open alcohol containers) in plain sight, you and your car can be legally, thoroughly searched on the spot.

If you are arrested on the basis of a vehicle search and seizure, discuss your case with an expert criminal defense lawyer so you can get sound legal advice. A good defense attorney can provide an aggressive defense and fight vigorously for justice on your behalf. If you are arrested in New York City or Long Island after a vehicle search and seizure, retain the counsel of a well-known Long Island criminal defense lawyer immediately.

Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

The criminal justice system isn’t what you see on television. Not all cops are virtuous, not all lawyers are glamorous, and certainly, most suspects are neither evil nor insane. In fact, if you’ve been arrested for a crime in New York City or Long Island, you’re probably a very normal and regular person who has been either falsely accused, or else you just made a bad decision. Either way, the police can arrest you in New York if they have probable cause to believe that you are committing or have recently committed a crime, and they can also take you into custody with a properly executed arrest warrant. After you have been arrested, the police must read your Miranda rights to you if they plan to interrogate you. If you’re unsure, your Miranda rights must be stated as follows:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you if you desire.

Most defense attorneys will strongly discourage you from answering questions. Be polite and courteous; however, just say “I choose to exercise my right to stay silent” or you could say “I rather not answer questions until my attorney is present.”

If you are being interrogated without being arrested first, the police don’t have to read your Miranda rights; however, you can still say you want to wait for an attorney.

Hire A Long Island Criminal Defense Attorney

Obviously, every case is different. When you’re pulled over by the police, be cooperative and friendly, but stay polite and persistent with your right to remain silent when being asked questions. If the police ask for permission to search your vehicle, politely decline. If you’re being charged with a crime in New York City or Long Island on the basis of evidence discovered during a traffic stop, discuss your case, your rights, and your options as quickly as possible with a knowledgeable Long Island criminal defense lawyer.