If your vehicle was searched without your permission by a law enforcement officer in Houston, you may need to speak to a lawyer to see if your 4th Amendment rights have been violated. It is not uncommon for law-abiding citizens to be pulled over for a traffic stop at one time or another and it is unnerving when police cruiser lights are following you down a roadway but stay calm and speak to the officers with respect so an innocuous situation is not exacerbated to an excessive force action.
Texas Peace Officers may ask to search a vehicle but they do not have the right to search your vehicle unless you give them permission. During a routine traffic stop police will request a driver’s license, registration and insurance information and some may follow up with a question about the possibility of any illegal items or weapons in your car. Remain courteous and answer. If there is a follow up that asks you to let them search your car, you may legally deny them access. They may not like that and a continued look about the interior of your car may find something they are interested in that gives them probable cause to ask you to step out, so they can search you and your vehicle.
Legal traffic stop.
Common reasons for police to make a traffic stop is due to a violation of Texas traffic laws. Speeding, expired registration tags or something noticeably broken on a car may give an officer a reason to pull a driver over with probable cause for the stop. During the traffic stop, the police have the right to check for visible weapons and run your information in their computer to see if you have any outstanding warrants. A police officer may ask you to get out of the car which is fine, but they cannot search you unless there is something visible that may look like a weapon or you are acting suspiciously. If an officer sees something that looks suspicious they can do a pat down on the outside of your clothing and if they feel something they may remove it from your pocket. Because you are outside of the car, the officer has no reason to look inside because you are not a danger to them if you cannot retrieve a weapon that may be in the car.
Citation or warning.
At that point in a traffic stop when you have given the officer all of your information, they have searched it and checked out your person, they can either give you a ticket for the reason they made a stop or give you a warning and you should be on your way as long as your license is valid. The ticket you sign will be your promise to appear in a Texas Traffic Court. If you do not have a valid driver’s license you can be arrested and taken to jail.
Hire an attorney.
If you feel you have been a victim of an illegal search by a police officer in Houston Texas, you should seek professional legal assistance at the Blizzard Law Firm to file a claim and have an attorney review your case to see if you can sue for civil rights violations. If an officer was physical with you and you were injured, damages may be sought after to cover any hospital/medical expenses; past and future permanent disability payments; and/or emotional distress due to an incident of force by police during a traffic stop.
Blizzard Law, PLLC
5020 Montrose Blvd, Ste 410
Houston, TX 77006