Do police have the right to search my car? - Criminal Law Questions and Answers- LawQA.com

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Do police have the right to search my car?

If my car is locked do police have the right to search? What are my rights?

Answer By Jared Austin
Austin Legal Services, PLC
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The police can only search your vehicle with your permission or if they have probable cause to search, especially if the area is a locked out. They would have to demonstrate probable cause which means a likelihood of finding illegal substances or items. If you are arrested or your vehicle is impounded, they can search it via an inventory search for safety purposes.

Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/24/2011

Answer By Andrew Subin
Law Office of Andrew Subin
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They cannot search your car without a warrant.

Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/15/2011

Answer By Roy L. Reeves
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
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Excellent question and one I need to write a blog on. In Texas a cop can only search your car if he has permission, a warrant, or articulable exigent circumstances. In years past, cops said they were searching for weapons incident to arrest - a new case law has stopped that from happening when the Court of Appeals said that the harm or danger which justified the search is no longer existent when the defendant is under arrest. This exception is to cars only at this point. The one exception I envision, and I have not had a chance to argue it yet, is an inventory of the vehicle at the impound yard, though I believe it is subject to the same restrictions - it is yet to be appealed and ruled upon. Bottom line, ALWAYS DENY PERMISSION TO SEARCH. There is not one good thing that will come of it for you. If a cop asks you for permission to search, he has already made up his mind that he wants to search and has a reason (even if it is only his gut opinion) to want to arrest you and he is looking for some justification. READ THAT AGAIN PLEASE - THE COP IS GOING TO ARREST YOU, HE ONLY WANTS TO SEARCH SO THAT HE CAN KEEP YOU UNDER ARREST. So, if you have nothing to hide (they love to say that, if you have nothing to hide why not let me search) you still have nothing to gain. The officer is either going to arrest you or not, and letting him search your car is not going to change that fact. His mind is either made up or not, and it if is made up, there is nothing you can do to stop it, even if he does not find anything. If it is not made up, denying the search will either cause him to call a dog to sniff the car (unreasonable detention perhaps) or ask for a search warrant (this takes time) or let you go. Your car does not have the same protections as your home, but you do have some right to privacy in your car. NEVER LET A COP SEARCH IT WITHOUT A WARRANT. This does not mean they will not search anyway, but if they do, at least you have a chance to file a motion to suppress if something is found. If you give permission, they have all they need and it becomes your word against that of a cop in court.

Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/10/2011

Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
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They can legally search your car only with consent or a search warrant.

Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 8/7/2011

Answer By Wayne Brucar
Brucar & Yetter, P.C.
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The police have a right to search your car, even if it is locked, if they have an articulable reason to do so, ie. probable cause to believe the car is involved in or contains the evidence of a crime. If the police do not have probable cause for the search, a motion to quash, ie. throw out, the search can be filed and heard if criminal charges are brought against you.

Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 8/4/2011

Answer By Gregory M. Abel
Grantland, Blodgett, Shaw & Abel
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It depends on the circumstances. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. This is really a question that a lawyer should sit down and review with you.

Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 8/4/2011

Lowenstein Law Office
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It depends on several factors

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/4/2011

Answer By Steve Freeborn
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
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If it is locked and does not impose a possibility of imminent harm, then "no". A search warrant is necessary. However if the contraband is in plain view; ie in a place where it is visible through the window, then this is not considered a search. Need to know a lot more facts before I can answer with any certainty

Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/3/2011

Answer By Michael Palumbo
Palumbo and Kosofsky
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Do police have the right to search my car? Yes. If my car is locked do police have the right to search? It depends, situationally. What are my rights? You have a 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures.

Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/3/2011

Law Office of Richard Williams
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8-3-11 Because an automobile is mobile the police have more rights to search than you might expect. It is still a case by case basis as to whether there was sufficient reasonable cause for a search without a warrant and I do not have sufficient information to know whether police could search or not. Otherwise, police would need a search warrant or permission to search.

Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 8/3/2011

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