This is the next post in our series on the challenging of evidence found through the stop of a vehicle in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our last post discussed when the police may legally stop a vehicle. It must be understood that a driver cannot be stopped unless law enforcement has “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity. It must also be understood, however, that a simple traffic infraction can give rise to such suspicion. In this article we will discuss the extent to which police can search a vehicle after they have legally stopped it. If you or a loved one have been arrested then we cannot stress enough the fact that you should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Call our office today to speak with a lawyer.
There are special rules in regards to the search of a vehicle. When the police legally stop a car then they are permitted to order the driver out of the vehicle for purposes of officer safety. The officers are also permitted to search any areas which would be within the immediate reach of the driver, such as the center console or the glove compartment, in order to ensure that there are no weapons present in the vehicle. Finally, the “plain view” doctrine allows the police to seize any evidence which is in their immediate line of site. Say, for example, that there is a bag of white powdery substance sitting, in plain view, in the vehicle’s back seat. The officers observe the bag while ordering the driver out of the car. They would be permitted to seize the evidence even though it was not in the driver’s immediate reach. The officers, however, would not be able to search any areas or containers which are outside of both their plain view and the driver’s immediate reach.
If the officers exceed their lawful authority to search the car, and find evidence (such as drugs or a gun), then it may be possible to exclude such evidence from trial. We will discuss the procedure for doing so in a later article. If the evidence is excluded then, depending on the facts of the case, it may be possible to have the charges dismissed. Search and seizure issues such as these involve complicated areas of law and it is important that you retain a criminal defense lawyer to assist you. Our Little Rock attorneys have over twenty-five years of combined experience and take pride in the level of service we provide. Contact us today.
We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of the state.