Asked in Criminal Law, Civil Rights and Constitutional Law for Virginia

Q: Passenger of car pulled over but no charges pressed can they search passengers and arrest for drug possession?

I was a passenger in a car that was pulled for theft but not reported stolen, owner was reported missing by his father, can the police legally search and/or detain thepassengers or occupants of vehicle and charge the passengers or honestly, could be said to be abducted occupants who were forcefully taken on a police chase with felony drug possession in va? No charges being filed by car owner. One arrested individual got theft traffic and drug possession charges. Initial stop was for supposed stolen car, not reported stolen, owners son reported missing or something like that though. What are my rights and how do I fight this charge?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In general, if the police have probable cause to believe there is evidence of a crime in a vehicle, they can search the vehicle without a warrant. This can include searching areas accessible to passengers. However, simply being a passenger in a vehicle doesn't automatically give police the right to search your person unless they have specific, individualized suspicion about you.

If you were not involved in the theft or any criminal activity, and there was no legal basis for the search, any evidence found might be suppressed. Given the complexity of your situation, including the claim of abduction and the intricacies surrounding the initial stop, it's essential to consult with an attorney directly. They can review all the details of your case to determine the best defense strategy.

If your rights were violated during the stop or subsequent search, this could be a key point in your defense. Additionally, the fact that no charges were filed by the car owner could influence the overall validity of the initial stop and subsequent actions.

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