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  • Writer's picturerichard noel

Vehicle Searches and Privacy Rights in Arizona

How do you utilize your rights under the law when you are caught up in a traffic stop that seems anything but routine?

Many of our past clients have raised questions about their rights in a traffic stop process, or elsewhere when they are concerned about their privacy.

Here are some things to know about search and seizure in the state of Arizona.

Establishing Probable Cause

Essentially, police need to establish probable cause when searching a vehicle.

However, some of that criteria seem pretty subjective. Looking at language in Arizona courts may not provide the kinds of transparency that people want, at least in the face of the situation. Getting qualified representation helps you to be sure that you have a professional in your corner, to analyze the case and look for your advantages in terms of how the court views things.

Benchmarks and Evidentiary Proof

The law does generally provide that probable cause needs to be established in a concrete way. In other words, law enforcement can't just use the feeling of a threat as means for probable cause to search for something.

Here's one of the fundamental problems – these conflicts are happening on the street, away from any kind of court review. So the actual law doesn't really come into play until a judge reviews what happened. But with that in mind, when there is a conflict between what a law enforcement agent says, and what a civilian is claiming, many of these things can be worked out in court. It just takes some time and effort.

Hostility on the Street

So when you're actively in a situation with law enforcement, there's sometimes no way to effectively resolve the conflict. Each side keeps saying that their opinion of the law is the right one.

One thing we tell our clients is to be polite, but firm, and to resist the urge to escalate or talk to law enforcement in unnecessary ways. Deferring more of the resolution to a court context is almost always an effective way to help improve outcomes in these kinds of cases. It helps if you are willing to allow for a reasonable search, but it also helps to explain things in a clear and polite way.

The bottom line, though, is that you have fourth amendment privacy rights. If you feel they've been infringed, call the attorneys at BB for good legal representation in AZ courts.

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