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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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how long can arizona sheriff hold a vehicle legally in conducting

Customer Question

how long can arizona sheriff hold a vehicle legally in conducting search following traffic stop
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.
The US Supreme Court in Arizona v. Johnson, a case decided at the end of January 2009, discusses the permissible length of a traffic stop:

" The temporary seizure of driver and passengers ordinarily continues, and remains reasonable, for the duration of the stop. Normally, the stop ends when the police have no further need to control the scene, and inform the driver and passengers they are free to leave."

The case also nicely lays out how a traffic stop can then become the basis for a further lawful search.

This is a complex area of law and whether the police have violated a defendant's right against unlawful search and seizure is determined by an analysis of the particular facts of an individual case. In any case in which a traffic stop resulted in search issues such as what you're concerned with in your question, a defense attorney would file a motion for a pre-trial hearing specifically to get all those facts put before a judge and challenge the constitutionality of the stop. If the court finds that the stop is unconstitutional, any evidence seized during the search would be inadmissible at trial.

If I've helped, please click the green Accept button so I can get credit for my work.

This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your state for specific legal advice.
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 17356
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
Zoey_ JD and 5 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
question is concerning the holding of my vehicle well over 24hrs"search is still in progress" im told by canine officer, who by the way has verbally voiced he"ll give me the car when he gets satisfied.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.
When I sent you my answer, the "already tried" section of your post did not display. I spotted it after I sent off my response. It doesn't change the botXXXXX XXXXXne in that as each fact after a stop can form the basis for a continued stop and for additional searching. And the constutionality of the whole process still gets determined on an individual case basis at a pre-trial hearing designed to challenge the stop.

In your matter, the initial traffic stop gave the sheriff the right to approach the vehicle. From there the dog gave him probable cause to think that there were drugs in the car. That would allow him to have your wife exit the car and to search the vehicle. From there, he obtained a warrant, from what you say. That's a whole different ball game. A judge had to sign off on if he or she was given enough facts to think there was probable cause for the search to continue. I don't know the scope of that warrant. That would e tested at the same hearing.

He may be keeping the car to wait for an additional warrant. Under some situations that could be proper. He may be holding the car as some kind of evidence as instrumentality of a crime. I don't know if he's behaving properly or improperly, only that there are certainly issues that can be challenged to find out.

On the other hand, if he never did your arrest wife, and she was ultimately free to leave the scene and he's still holding on to the car, contact a local criminal lawyer or your public defender's office and see if you can get someone to call the sheriff and find out just what's going on. Don't do it yourself. If you and your wife are both under suspicion because the dog thinks the car has been used to transport drugs, this may be just the beginning of your dealings with local authority, and anything you would say to the sheriff could be used against you and your wife.

If you're not under an active investigation and the sheriff still will not release the vehicle, you will need a local civil lawyer to help you get this car back. In an extreme case you could sue the sheriff's office to get your car back.


If I've helped, please click the green Accept button so I can get credit for my work.

This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your state for specific legal advice.

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Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.