Probable cause is an interesting topic when it comes to criminal law in Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood. Law enforcement needs it to do several different things in terms of your person, property, or car. Probable cause that someone has engaged in criminal behavior is also necessary to make an arrest. There are instances in Colorado where searches or arrests aren’t done with probable cause, violating a person’s constitutional rights. Below we discuss the different elements of probable cause specific to car searches and how we can help those facing allegations.
What is Probable Cause in Colorado?
Probable cause in Colorado includes observations, circumstances, or evidence that give police belief you’ve committed a crime or that they’ll find proof of criminal activity. It is required to issue a warrant, make an arrest, or conduct a search of someone or their property. Unreasonable search and seizure is prohibited by the US Constitution without probable cause. Specific to police, they need to have either observed evidence of criminal behavior or actually witnessed the behavior itself to have probable cause to search or arrest someone.
Probable Cause and Your Car
In many situations, law enforcement needs a search warrant to look through your car in Denver, Jefferson, or Arapahoe County. However, the following exceptions apply:
- you consent to a search,
- there’s evidence in view through windows (drugs, firearm, etc),
- police have already lawfully arrested you and are examining the areas within your control,
- your car has been impounded,
- or there’s probable cause to believe evidence of a crime (vehicle exception)
Because the simplest way to search your car is to ask for your permission, police will often start there. Don’t fall for this tactic. Anything they find could be used against you, even if someone else put it there.
In order to justify a vehicle exception, law enforcement points to a lower expectation of privacy regarding items in your car and that it can be moved.
Denver Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you find yourself wondering whether police had probable cause before arresting you or searching your property, it’s time to speak with a skilled defense attorney. When it comes to criminal charges, there isn’t any time to waste. Contact our office today for a free, confidential consultation. We will closely examine your situation, answer your questions, and outline next steps if charges are looming. Our defense attorneys have decades of combined experience in Denver, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Douglas, and Adams County and are prepared for your unique circumstances.
Don’t talk to the police about suspected criminal activity – talk to us. 303-731-0719
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