When May Police Search Your Vehicle in Houston, TX?

16 Jan 2023
Greco Neyland, PC

Any traffic stop can become a fraught situation that can lead to your arrest, even when you feel like the stop is routine.

Vehicle search is one of the possibilities that arises during those stops. Those searches can be problematic, and it’s wise to know your rights.

What can happen when police search your car in Texas?

Many people allow police to search their vehicles because they feel they have “nothing to hide.”

It can be a mistake for two reasons.

First, while you may never have put any contraband into your own car, friends or family members might have. You might not know about it. That nasty surprise is likely to lead to your arrest.

Second, you leave the door wide open for police to plant evidence in your car. While you might believe that’s something that only happens on television, it’s more common here in real life than you might expect.

Do police always need a warrant or your permission to search your car in Texas?

Police may search a vehicle if they have probable cause to believe it contains evidence of a crime, if the driver gives them consent to do so, if they have a warrant, or if they have arrested a driver or a passenger.

If you refuse to give police permission to search your vehicle, they may claim probable cause and do it anyway. There may not be anything you can do about that, but your attorney can still raise the challenge of whether true probable cause existed.

Is there ever a good reason to let police officers search your vehicle?

No. Do not consent to a search.

Even if police search your car anyway, making it clear that they do not have permission to do so is legally helpful later. It allows your Houston defense lawyer to challenge whether they had the right to search the car in the first place.

If police conducted an illegal search, all the evidence they obtained may be declared inadmissible in court. In some cases, taking that evidence away might be enough to destroy the prosecution’s entire case, which means your charges may well end up dropped or dismissed.

If you did not consent or do not verbalize your lack of consent you may remove this tool from your toolbox, preventing us from bringing your case to its best possible outcome.

Get Help Today

As with any issue pertaining to the law, the issue of whether the police had the right to search your vehicle is very complex.

If you are facing criminal charges after a search, don’t try to do guesswork. Reach out to our team today.

See also:

5 Mistakes You Need to Avoid in Your Houston, TX Criminal Case

Can the Police Attach a GPS to Your Houston, TX Car?

What Happens Between Arrest and a Houston, TX Criminal Trial

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