Illegal Car Search Defense

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingFeb 26, 2020

People v. Lopez Case in California. The police derive a lot of cases from searching people's cars, and one big trick they have is they'll pull you over.  They'll order you out of the vehicle for the officer's safety, and then they'll claim they have to go back in the car to search the vehicle for your driver's license, insurance information, and car registration.  That gives them a free search of the vehicle under all circumstances.

A new case law called People v. Lopez by our Ninth Circuit here in California. It says the police can no longer use the argument that they need to go back in for the car registration, license, or insurance to get into somebody's vehicle.

Illegal Car Search Defense in Criminal Cases

In other words, that's not an exception to the warrant requirement of the Constitution.  Our Fourth Amendment Constitution protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures by the police.  So, the only way you get around that requirement is if you've got an exception to the warrant requirement.

So, this Lopez case is excellent now.  I'm using it right now on a Van Nuys case that I have, where they've gone in to get the person's registration after a person came out of the car because the police ordered them out of the car, and of course, they're claiming it's for officer safety reasons.

They're not going to let the person go back there to get the car registration.  But this case will get overturned because of this new Lopez case that has come out. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will provide a further review below.

Motion to Suppress Evidence – Penal Code 1538.5

So, if you've got a situation where your car was illegally searched, you didn't give consent, then pick up the phone and call me.  Let's talk about it and see if a motion to suppress the evidence under California Penal Code 1538.5 PC is appropriate because of the unlawful search.

Now poison to this motion and poison to the defense is if you consent to the search.  In other words, if you agreed to the investigation, you tell the police sure, go ahead and search, and sign a search consent form, then you're going to allow the police to search your vehicle.

You may not want them to search your vehicle, but if you say sure, go ahead and search my vehicle, they're going to be permitted to search the car. Beyond that, they're going to need some specific exceptions to be able to get in that car.

Fighting Illegal Search and Seizure Cases

So, if you've got a scenario where you were pulled over for some traffic offense, and the police have used that traffic offense to get in there and search your vehicle, pick up the phone.  Make the call.

Let's talk about your case, and let's talk about whether or not it was an illegal search and whatever they found — be it drugs, weapons, or anything — whether or not they can use that evidence against you or should it be suppressed under a violation of Penal Code Section 1535.

This statute talks about an illegal search that will result in all evidence from that illegal search being declared fruit of the poisonous tree and, therefore, suppressed. Thus, the police cannot use it against you. If you need assistance, pick up the phone.  Make the call.  Take the first step towards dealing with your criminal case. Hedding Law Firm is based in LA County and offers a free case review by phone at (213) 542-0940, or you can fill out our contact form.