The Ability Of Police To Search A Vehicle Is Not Absolute
Lakeland, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 11, 2014 – Deciding what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy revolves around two questions.
“The ability of the police to search automobiles is not absolute. However, if a court finds that evidence presented in court was taken during an unlawful search, the prosecution is barred from using it,” explains criminal defense attorney, Thomas C. Grajek.
A search happens when representatives of the government, such as police officers, invade an area where an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy. There are two questions involved in the determination of this expectation. Did the individual actually have in their mind such an expectation and would that mentally internalized expectation be reasonable to a non-involved third party?
There are some situations in which an individual can refuse to let their vehicle be searched. The police, or other agents, are not required to advise a person they have that right. If the person does agree to a search, the decision must be made without any undue pressure exerted by the police. “An individual may also restrict where an agent can search and you may change your mind once the search has begun,” adds Grajek.
If the police have probable cause to search a vehicle, they may do so without the driver giving permission. The probable cause would be related to the belief the vehicle had evidence relating to a crime. An example would be a driver pulled over for a traffic violation. The officer approaching the car may determine the individual looks like a suspect wanted for robbing a convenience store and notices several cartons of cigarettes in the backseat. This kind of a situation may create probable cause.
If an arrest is lawful, the arresting officer may search the person and the immediate area around that individual, which may include a vehicle. This is only permissible if the person is arrested. If the person is not arrested and the officer pulled them over to issue a citation, the car may not be searched.
“Vehicle searches are complex and it is best to understand the law and how it affects you. Speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer to find out what your rights are,” says Grajek.