More than Just a Hunch
Video Transcript: How can you know if the cops have probable cause to search you during a traffic stop? My name is Brian L. Jackson, I am an attorney in Oklahoma with Wirth Law Office, and I want to talk a little bit about trying to guess whether or not the cops have probable cause to search you on a vehicle stop.
The short answer is it can be really hard to tell because it really depends on what the cops think they see. Now some things that are generally speaking going to constitute probable cause, if you look obviously impaired, if there is paraphernalia in plain view or anything that looks like it could be paraphernalia, or contraband in plain view, if there’s anything really suspicious about your car.
Now things that generally speaking would not constitute probable cause for a search would be an expired tag, and you don’t have your insurance, you don’t have your driver’s license, things like that. Now the reason why this might matter is these are things to talk to your attorney about if you did get arrested, or you did get cited, or you get searched. And I mean I’m going to presume if you’re talking to an attorney it’s because you’ve got charged with something off the back of the search, or cited for something. But you probably would want to share details like that. I wouldn’t recommend trying to guess if a cop has probable cause or not on the site.
If they ever ask you to search you should always say no because if you consent then they don’t need probable cause. Now you’ve consented and the search is legal, so you never consent. The reason to talk about the subject of probable cause has more to do with what to tell your lawyer about the circumstances. In other words, what was the condition of your vehicle, what condition were you in, how did you act during the stop? Kind of goes to making yourself into a good witness so that your attorney can look at that and analyze it and determine all right, well can I attack that search or not?
So that’s the reason for understanding that because I mean if you’re stopped by the cops and they want to search you the correct answer is always to decline. I mean, you do have the right to consent to a search, but my advice is I don’t see where you gain anything from doing that, and you have a lot to lose by doing that, so the better solution is don’t consent to searches.
Do remember what was going on with your car if you get searched over your objection, and do remember what was going on with you so you can tell your lawyer and hopefully they can use that to develop a defense to the search. But it’s useful information either way and it’s stuff we want to know. And guys, if you have questions about that you should go to makelaweasy.com to speak with a Tulsa criminal defense lawyer and we’d be happy to answer them for you.