Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

How Should You Respond if Law Enforcement Wants to Search Your Vehicle?

Three suspects were recently arrested in connection with a shooting that occurred on Route 138. The Canton Police Department reports that the incident occurred after one vehicle forced another off the road. A person is then reported to have fired a gun. The suspect was accused of intentionally ramming a vehicle. This collision caused the passenger of the vehicle that was struck to fire six shots. The suspect later abandoned his vehicle close to the crash scene. 

Two people besides the driver were in the vehicle that was struck. A search warrant executed following the arrest later led to the discovery of two firearms, an extended Glock Pistol magazine, and Fentanyl. 

The driver currently faces charges of  intent to murder, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, assault and battery with a deadly weapon, possession of ammunition, and unlicensed possession of a firearm. The exact charges against the other two suspects are not yet certain but will likely include accessory after the fact of assault with intent to murder, accessory after the fact of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and possession of a firearm.

When it comes to police searches, many people fail to understand that a vehicle is not held up to the same standard as a residence. People have a lower expectation of privacy on public roads than they do at home. To stop and search a motor vehicle on the road, law enforcement needs probable cause. Anything that law enforcement finds in your vehicle can be held against you in a court of law. 

How to Respond to Law Enforcement During a Search

To prepare for interacting with law enforcement, there are some important details you should understand about legal searches and seizures:

  • You should make sure that important paperwork including your driver’s license and registration is easily obtained if you are pulled over by the police. 

  • If an officer cannot find probable cause to search your vehicle, they will likely ask for your consent to perform such a search. Remember in these situations, law enforcement is hoping that they can intimidate you into consenting. 

  • Law enforcement will often ask motorists if they are intoxicated or have drugs on them. In these situations, law enforcement is also expecting that you will give up information out of nervousness about being in the presence of a police officer. 

  • You are not under any obligation to answer a question that law enforcement asks. Instead, you should check whether you are under arrest or are in trouble. You need not feel compelled to directly answer law enforcement’s questions, beyond identifying yourself. 

  • Law enforcement will sometimes continue to request a search of your vehicle even if they lack probable cause. In these situations, it is best to deny their requests. 

Speak With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Regardless of the charge that you face, one of the best steps that you can take after a criminal charge is to contact an experienced attorney. Schedule a free case evaluation with Edward R Molari today.