Pennsylvania State Troopers practice what’s known as highway interdiction – looking out for drugs along roads and highways. This usually occurs during stops where the trooper has reason to believe that the driver is engaging in illegal activities. While these stops are generally legal, there are limits as to how troopers can question drivers, and many times, this blurred line gets crossed.

If you believe that your criminal charges were based on an illegal search, you can take action with help from an experienced defense lawyer. For example, in early 2015, a Cumberland County judge ruled that the search of a car containing hundreds of cartons of untaxed cigarettes was illegal, and all the evidence from the case was suppressed. Subsequently, all the charges against the driver and his nephew–the only two people in the car–were dropped.

At Fienman Defense, we fiercely advocate for our clients and can help determine if an illegal search resulted in your charges. Call us today at (215) 839-9529 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

How Pennsylvania Is Taking Action

Multiple independent news agencies in Pennsylvania have discovered that state troopers practicing highway interdiction often use less-than-desirable methods to question drivers, such as flimsy affidavits and minor traffic stops. Consequently, Governor Tom Wolf has requested the Officer of the Inspector General to conduct a statewide review of how well Pennsylvania state troopers are following the law during these stops.

This review is crucial, as many times people are wrongfully hit with criminal charges as a result of these illegal searches. Once these cases are brought to the courtroom and the evidence is examined, the criminal charges are often challenged or outright dismissed.

The Lowdown on Vehicle Search Laws

Sadly, many state troopers use these shady tactics, and many drivers are unaware that they don’t have to submit to a search of their vehicle. In reality, troopers can only conduct searches under specific circumstances.

In most cases, the Fourth Amendment protects drivers from illegal searches, and usually, officers need a warrant to conduct a search. If there is no warrant, the officer needs probable cause that illegal activity is occurring to search your vehicle.

Probable cause could be drug paraphernalia inside your car or the smell of marijuana. Other instances when officers can search your vehicle without a warrant are when your vehicle is impounded because you’ve been arrested, and the officers need to search your vehicle for illegal activity. The police can also conduct a search to preserve their own safety or if you consented to the search.

Be aware that officers will go to great lengths to search your car, like trying to rile you up and then arrest you for inappropriate conduct. Like we mentioned above, they are within their rights to search your car once you’re arrested. But if there is no reason to conduct a search, then you don’t have to consent to one.

Consenting to a search essentially gives the officer the right to find evidence they can use against you in court.

Fienman Defense Can Help

Being charged with any crime is devastating, but it feels even more bitter if it happens because of inappropriate police tactics. Fortunately, attorney Michael Fienman can identify where mistakes happen and help you deal with it the right way. It could mean limiting the evidence against you and possibly having the case reduced or dismissed.

Call Fienman Defense at (215) 839-9529 for a free and confidential consultation.

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