Can police officers legally search my vehicle?

You likely know that the United States Constitution gives you certain rights. One of the amendments in the Constitution is the Fourth Amendment, which gives you the right to not have to undergo unreasonable searches and seizures at the hands of law enforcement officers. While this amendment gives you very firm protections for your home, the protections you have regarding your vehicle aren't as strict.

What should I do if police officers ask to search my vehicle?

Police officers can search your vehicle in a few instances. If you given them consent to search your vehicle, they can search the entire vehicle. If you are asked to consent to a search, you have three options. You can either permit the search, decline consent, or remain silent. If the police officer begins to search without your consent, you should remain silent. The exclusionary rule means that if you didn't consent and evidence, such as illegal drugs, is obtained, it can't be used against you.

Are there any other instances in which an officer can search my vehicle?

There are a few other instances in which police officers can search your vehicle. If they obtain a search warrant, they can search the vehicle. If they have probable cause to believe that your car has evidence of a crime, if you are arrested and the search is directly related to your arrest, or if the officer believes a search is necessary for his or her protection, they can search your vehicle.

Calling the search of your vehicle into question is one possible option that you have when you are working on a defense. It is important that you make notes about the search so it can be determine whether you should include this in your defense or not.

Source: FindLaw, "When Can the Police Search Your Car?," accessed July 01, 2016

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