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Car Searches in California Drug Crime Cases


A lot of the cases that I defend in Los Angeles county and even federally, are spawned from a car search.

The police either pull a car over and get the person’s permission to search or they have probable cause to search because some informant has given them some information.

Whatever the case may be.  They get into the person’s vehicle, they search it and they find drugs.  That’s probably the most common thing that you’ll see

Another big car search issue as it relates to drugs cases is when the police — especially when the federal government are wiretapping somebody — and they get information through the wiretap that a particular person is going to be moving drugs.

Police Stop for Traffic Violation

They zero-in on the drugs, pull the person over for some sort of a traffic violations.  Sometimes the traffic violation is legitimate; sometimes they just make up something so they can pull the car

Car Searches in California Drug Crime Cases

Many California drug crime cases are started after a vehicle search and consent was given by driver.

over and get those drugs.

A lot of times people are stupid and consent and say, sure, go ahead and search the car, even though they know they have a bunch of drugs in the car.

Those people who are smart and say, no, you can’t search the car, now the police have a problem.

They either lie about the person agreeing to search the car, or they make up something up, like they see the drugs in plain sight or they smell something.

But usually what I see them do, especially in these big federal cases where they’re ready, because they’ve done the wiretap, they’ve heard the information and they know they’re going to get a lot of drugs to confirm their big investigation.

Using K-9 to Search for Drugs in Vehicle

They’ll have someone pull them over — whether it’s a trooper or police office, whatever the case may be and then they’ll have a dog brought in and the dog will alert to the drugs in the car.

Once that happens, they don’t need the person’s consent in order to search the car.  Now, they’re going to be green lighted.

There’s case law that supports that if a dog alerts and indicates that there’s drugs in the car, they’re entitled to search the car and seize those drugs.

Then you have to go backwards and try to attack the stop and say that the stop was no good.  The police can’t just stop someone’s vehicle for no reason.

They can’t just stop it based on a suspicion or a hunch.  They actually have to have some good information that gives them probable cause that they’re going to find some drugs in that car.

If they have that, then they may well have the argument to be able to pull somebody’s car over and search that particular vehicle.

Challenging Probable Cause in Drug Crime Cases

So, really things depend on what the circumstances are and whether or not there’s probable cause to search a vehicle.  Usually what we’re attacking when it comes to car searches is, first we attack the stop.

Then we attack the search, and then we might even attack whose drugs those are once they’re found.

Challenging Probable Cause in Drug Crime Cases

Our criminal lawyers might be able to challenge whether there was probable cause to search vehicle.

So, you never should give police consent to search your car, especially if you have drugs in them because you really just give them a green light to get in there and that’s like the worse, most difficult thing to defend when somebody has given consent to the police to search the car.

Some people are even dumb enough to sign a consent form and now you really pretty much have given the police card blanche to be able to search your entire car.

Even search your person, and now you put yourself in a position, if they find drugs, they’re going to seize them and they’re going to charge you with them and it’s going to be very difficult to get out of the search in the car — whether it’s a federal case or a state case.

I have you come in and we go over everything step by step.  Obviously, I’m going to get the discovery/paperwork in the case and any videos and anything we can get so that we can attack that stop and search of your vehicle.

Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 374-3952.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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