Drug charges arise from a variety of circumstances, but often people find themselves charged with a drug offense after what started out as a routine traffic stop. Let’s be clear, though: a police officer does not automatically have a right to search your vehicle when you’ve been pulled over for an alleged traffic violation.
Still, police do search vehicles when there is reason to believe that drugs are inside, though not all searches and seizures are legal. In many cases, a strong criminal defense involves showing that the police violated the rights of the accused by conducting an illegal search or seizure.
If a police officer asks to search your vehicle, you have a right to decline. However, the officer may still conduct a search after obtaining a search warrant. Your car may also be searched if there are drugs or drug paraphernalia in plain sight within the vehicle, or if the officer suspects that some other crime has been committed or if there is reason to think the officer’s or the public’s safety is threatened.
In any case, how and why police officers conduct searches and seizures should be closely scrutinized. A mistake in procedure could violate the Fourth Amendment rights of the person who was pulled over, and such a violation could be grounds to have evidence suppressed and a drug charged dismissed.
The reality is that not everyone accused of a drug offense is guilty. If you find yourself facing a drug-related charge in Pennsylvania, then speak as soon as possible with an aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney. The stakes are too high to let police and prosecutors simply have their way.