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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27126
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I was pulled over last friday window tint and not

Customer Question

i was pulled over last friday for dark window tint and not having a front license plate. the cop ran my name and saw i had a warrent for fishing without a license, for i had forgotten to pay my fine. they told me i was under arrest then proceeded too search the car! they found drugs in my locked glove box and impounded the vehicle and took me to jail. i guess my question would be, does this fall under illegal search and seizier?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
i should also add i just bought the car and was on my way to dmv for plates. i had also just dealt with the same warrant by the same police and was told they wouldnt arrest me for such a warrant because it was less than $500.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
My name is ***** ***** I am an experienced criminal lawyer.
Were you written up for all three offenses?
According to Terry v. Ohio, a US Supreme Court ruling decided in 1968, which is still the lead case on this issue, all an officer needs to stop any car is just a reasonable(articulable) suspicion that some criminal activity may be taking place. It must be something more than a hunch, but it only has to be something that the officer can put into words.
By definition, the inability to see into your windows and the lack of proper plates would give the officer a reason to believe you may be violating the law. That suspicion would give him the right to then approach your vehicle, ask you to roll down the window and hand over your identification, and even, assuming he felt he needed to go further, to tell you to get out of the car, pat you down for safety, detain you for a brief time and do a cursory inspection and search of your car. To do a full search of your vehicle, however, the officer would need a warrant or an exception to the warrant requirement.
An inventory search that is incident to a lawful arrest is one exception to the warrant requirement. But there are really no hard and fast rules when it comes to search and seizure. This is a very sophisticated and complicated area of the law.
The US Supreme Court has held that when it comes to matters of search and seizure, there is no black or white yes or no answer. Instead, every case must be examined individually according to its special facts and circumstances. So, if you want to fight your criminal case, your attorney would be able to ask for a pre trial hearing to challenge the stop and everything that flowed from it because the police acted improperly. If the judge decides after hearing both sides that the police violated your rights, any evidence seized could be suppressed, which could mean a dismissal of your charges, depending upon the kind of case it is.
The standard that the judge must use when evaluating this kind of testimony is what a reasonable officer in the same circumstances would do. If the police conduct is considered unreasonable, the evidence seized would be inadmissable at your trial. Without the drugs, there could be no drug possession case, and all but the traffic matters could be dismissed.