This is the next post in our series on challenging the use of evidence found after the stop of a car in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our last post discussed the extent to which police may search a car after stopping it. It is important to understand that officers may conduct a limited search upon the stop of a vehicle but, if they exceed those limits, then any obtained evidence will be excluded from the Court’s proceedings. If you believe that your rights have been violated then it is important that you retain a criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in handling such matters. In this article we will discuss another important topic – the ability of the police to conduct “inventory searches” of impounded cars. If you require assistance then contact our office today to speak with an attorney.
The police have authority to search a vehicle which has been towed and/or impounded. This is so that law enforcement may take an inventory of any items inside the car. Having a list of the inventory can serve to protect law enforcement from any claims that items were stolen from inside the vehicle. Police, who are conducting an inventory search, may essentially be as thorough as they wish. This means that they may open sealed containers, suitcases, etc. and determine what the contents of said containers are. If, while conducting a valid inventory search, law enforcement discovers evidence of a crime then they are allowed to seize such evidence. An example of this would be if law enforcement found drugs or a gun inside the car. The discovery of such evidence could lead to criminal charges.
Say, for example, that law enforcement stopped an individual for speeding. Now say that the driver had an outstanding traffic warrant. The police would, lawfully, be able to place the person under arrest and have their car towed. The vehicle could then be subjected to an inventory search. Now say that, during the search, the police found narcotics and a firearm. Under these facts, a speeding infraction will turn into felony charges.
If you have been charged after an inventory search of your car then it is important to understand that you may still have options. If the police violated your rights, before your car was towed, then it may be possible to have any evidence excluded from Court. Retaining an experienced defense attorney can help you to ensure that your rights remain fully protected. Our Little Rock lawyers have handled many matters involving search and seizure issues and we are ready to assist you. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of the state.