My Passenger Had Drugs in the Vehicle When Pulled Over, What are My Rights?
Being pulled over by the police can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you have a passenger with drugs in the vehicle.
In Arizona, drug crimes are taken seriously, and being caught with drugs can result in severe penalties, including jail time and fines.
In this situation, you may wonder what your rights are and what steps you should take next.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the following topics:
- Understanding Arizona’s Drug Possession Laws
- Can the Driver be Charged for the Passenger’s Drugs?
- Understanding Your Rights During a Traffic Stop
- Potential Defenses for Drug Charges in Arizona
- Frequently Asked Questions about Passenger Drug Possession Cases
Understanding Arizona’s Drug Possession Laws
Arizona’s drug possession laws are outlined in Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) §13-3401 to §13-3423.
Under these laws, it is illegal to possess, use, sell, or transport drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs, without a valid prescription.
The severity of the penalties depends on the type and amount of the drug in question.
The Legal Consequences of Passenger Drug Possession
You could face criminal charges if a passenger in your vehicle is caught with drugs.
If drugs are found in your vehicle, you could be charged with possessing drugs if you were aware of them and could control them, also known as “constructive possession.”
The penalties for drug possession can range from a fine to several years in prison, depending on the amount and type of drug involved.
Can the Driver be Charged for the Passenger’s Drugs?
If drugs are found in your vehicle, the police will likely assume that the driver owns the drugs.
However, if you can prove that the drugs belong to the passenger and that you were unaware of their presence, you may not be charged with drug possession.
Constructive possession can be difficult to prove, and an experienced lawyer can help you build a strong defense.
Understanding Your Rights During a Traffic Stop:
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.
This means that the police cannot search your vehicle without probable cause or your consent.
However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as if the police have a search warrant or if they have reason to believe that evidence of a crime is in plain view.
How Consent to Search Impacts Your Case:
If the police ask for your consent to search your vehicle, you can refuse.
If you grant consent, the police can search your vehicle without a warrant, and any evidence found during the search can be used against you in court.
However, if the police search your vehicle without your consent and a warrant, any evidence found during the search may be deemed inadmissible in court.
When Police Can Search a Vehicle Without a Warrant:
Police can search your vehicle without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is in it.
For example, if an officer smells marijuana or sees drug paraphernalia in plain view, they may have probable cause to search your vehicle.
Additionally, if you’re pulled over for a traffic violation, the police can search your vehicle if they believe you’re involved in criminal activity.
Challenging the Legality of the Traffic Stop:
If the police stopped you without a valid reason, any evidence obtained while being pulled over may be suppressed in court.
This means that it cannot be used against you as evidence.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you challenge the legality of the traffic stop by examining the reason for the stop and the officer’s actions.
Potential Defenses for Drug Charges in Arizona
If you’re facing drug charges in Arizona, there are several potential defenses that you may be able to use.
- Lack of knowledge- If you were unaware of drugs in your vehicle, you might not be charged with drug possession.
- Illegal search and seizure– If the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights by searching your vehicle without probable cause or consent, any evidence obtained during the search may be suppressed.
Frequently Asked Questions about Passenger Drug Possession Cases:
Q: What should I do if I’m pulled over, and my passenger has drugs in the vehicle?
A: Stay calm and cooperate with the police. Refrain from admitting wrongdoing, and do not consent to a search of your vehicle without consulting with an attorney.
Q: Can I be charged with drug possession if I didn’t know the drugs were in my vehicle?
A: It’s possible to be charged with drug possession if the drugs are found in your vehicle, and you could control them, even if you were unaware of their presence. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense.
Q: Can the police search my vehicle without a warrant?
A: The police can search your vehicle without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is in it. They can also search your vehicle if you grant them consent.
An Experienced Attorney is Essential When Faced With A Drug Conviction
If you’re facing drug charges in Arizona due to your passenger having drugs in your vehicle, knowing your rights and understanding the potential consequences is essential.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense and protect your rights.
Don’t let a drug charge define your future—contact the Shah Law Firm today and receive a free consultation at (602) 560-7408.