You’ve probably heard that police need a warrant to search your property, thanks to the fourth amendment, but is it the same with car searches? After all, the founding fathers weren’t around to see them; it was created for the purpose of protecting individuals from unlawful house searches; not cars.
If you’ve ever been stopped by the police, they may request to search your vehicle. You might have a lot of questions. Can you say no? Here, attorney Rahul Balaram, of Balaram Law Office, reveals under what circumstances the police are allowed to search your car.
They Have Your Consent
If you’re pulled over, the police might ask to search your vehicle. Whether or not they do is completely up to you.
Though you might feel pressured to comply and say yes, you are not required to. It is perfectly fine to assert your fourth amendment rights and politely refuse to let them search your vehicle. In fact, it’s best to do just that.
Many people feel intimidated into agreeing to a car search because they think the officer might have probable cause, however, if an officer asks to search your vehicle, that does not mean that they have it, and consenting to one can result in charges that are more difficult to overturn in court.
That’s because unless an officer has your consent or any of the other reasons listed below, any car search they conduct is illegal, which can result in any charges being dropped.
If They Don’t Have Your Consent
There are still a few reasons why police can search your car if you don’t give them your consent.
They Have a Warrant
The first way is to have a warrant. This is because of the fourth amendment, which clearly states that law enforcement must have a search warrant, which is an order that authorizes law enforcement officials to conduct a search, to examine your vehicle. However, there are a few exceptions that allow officers to bypass this requirement.
If an officer has probable cause, they are allowed to search your car. To have probable cause, there must be a clear indicator you are breaking the law, and evidence must be in plain view. For instance, if you are driving a stolen vehicle, they see drugs or guns on the dashboard or seats, or they can smell an illegal substance.
You’ve Been Arrested
They can search your car if you are arrested and they are looking for evidence to support your arrest. This is closely related to probable cause, as they must see some reason to arrest you in the first place, such as clear signs that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Your Car is Impounded
Police can also search for impounded vehicles. If your car is towed, for whatever reason, they can open it and conduct a search. However, they have to follow strict rules and cannot simply impound your vehicle for the purpose of a search.
They Feel They Are in Danger
Lastly, should an officer feel their life is in danger and suspect there is a hidden weapon, they can conduct a search without your permission.
If you still have any questions pertaining to whether the police can search your car, it’s important to speak to an attorney and know your rights.
About Rahul Balaram:
Rahul Balaram is an experienced and dedicated attorney that has represented hundreds of clients. Mr. Balaram takes pride in ensuring his clients are aware of every aspect of their case and that their interests are presented with dignity, compassion, and competence.
Rahul opened the Balaram Law Office in Santa Rosa and is widely known for his excellent trial skills, his unrelenting work on behalf of his clients, and the outstanding results that his clients receive.