The cops pulled my friend and I over because they said a tail light was out. They then told us to step out of the car and searched it without any reason. They found a gun under the passenger seat and are charging me with it now even though I didn't know it was down there. Do I have "standing" to argue that the search was illegal? No one gave them permission to search the car.
Criminal Defense Attorney
As someone who was charged with a crime as a result of the gun found as a result of the search you certainly have standing to argue in a suppression hearing that the search was illegal and the evidence (the gun) should be suppressed. Arguing this does not foreclose your argument and any evidence you might present at trial that the gun wasn't possessed by you and you didn't have any knowledge of its presence in the vehicle. The issue of legality is whether the police had probable cause to search the car. Under case law of the United States Supreme Court, a police officer does not need a warrant to search a vehicle but, absent consent, does need to have probable cause to search. The various states are free to grant greater protection against search and seizures than the United States Constitution does. Make sure to ask you attorney to consider raising the issue as a violation of the Illinois Constitution. My state (PA) does grant greater protection for vehicle searches than the U.S. Constitution and requires an additional showing of exigent circumstances in addition to the fact that the place to be searched is a vehicle to forego the warrant. I don't know what Illinois law is on the subject. If Illinois' highest court has not decided that Illinois provides the same protection (not greater than) as the U.S, Constitution than the issue should be raised as both state and Federal constitutional violation.
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Personal Injury Lawyer
This is a question you should be asking of your criminal defense attorney. And, if you are not represented by counsel--and, assuming that you have been charged with a crime--then you should get yourself a lawyer.
Ms. Berjis is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The laws of your jurisdiction may differ and thus this answer is for informational and educational purposes only and is not to be considered as legal advice. Since all facts are not addressed in the question, this answer could change depending on other significant and important facts. This answer in no way constitutes an attorney-client relationship.
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You most certainly have standing in that traffic stop with the warrantless search. What you do not have is an experienced defense attorney preparing, researching and making articulate argument in the criminal court with jurisdiction to rule on that matter.
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