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When Can The Police Search Your Car Without Permission

Posted by Dan Kann | Oct 07, 2021 | 1 Comment

The Supreme court states that cars hold reduced rights of privacy because they are less private. Most Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys advise caution while carrying things in a truck, car, or SUV. There are several times when a warrant is required to search a car. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

Major Exceptions to Requiring a Warrant for Searching a Vehicle

· An officer that doesn't have a warrant would need express permission to search your car. Anything found in the vehicle after attaining consent for the search can be used as evidence in court.

· Police can search a vehicle without a warrant if they have probable cause that it contains evidence of illegal contraband or if that item pertains to a crime.

· Police may search your vehicle if you are being arrested. This is known as search incident to arrest. Law enforcement can search your vehicle if you are in handcuffs if you could reach the passenger compartment.

· Police can search impounded vehicle and use anything found inside of it as evidence. This is called an "inventory search."

Almost all criminal defense attorneys would expressly advice you against giving consent to the police to search your vehicle. You are not under any obligation to allow the police to search your vehicle no matter what anyone says. This is something not everyone understands but should. Sometimes, the police may use mild intimidation to get one to give consent. However, after 2011 law enforcement officers have to adhere to more strict guidelines.

Giving Consent and Probable Cause for Vehicle Search

In California, you should assume that the police are going to search your vehicle if they have stopped you. As mentioned, they may use mild intimidation if you don't provide consent. Police can legally search your vehicle in very few situations. If you give consent the police can search your car completely.

For probable cause the officer may ask you a series of questions. They may ask whether you have marijuana in the vehicle. If you answer yes, they may  have probable cause to search the vehicle. The officer's questions on face value may seem non-incriminating and simple. However, you need to be careful with what you say. If probable cause does exist, the police can search the vehicle.

Any evidence that is discovered can be used against you in court. Warrantless searches are exceedingly common in traffic violation stops. Your vehicle will be impounded if you are stopped and cited for driving with a suspended license which is not an ideal situation. This would result in the vehicle being searched thoroughly by way of a routine inventory search.

Consult with a Skilled Ventura Criminal Attorney

In California, police don't always search a vehicle legally. Rights violations can be accidental but are nonetheless illegal and suppressible. Searches are quite common in DUI cases. Rules regarding legal vehicle searches tend to be complex. The officer may make a mistake in their eagerness to make an arrest.

Remember, your rights have been violated even if the officer made a mistake in searching your vehicle. The legal team at Kann California Law Group is here to help you protect your rights. Schedule a consultation with us by calling at (888) 744-7730 or using our online form.

About the Author

Dan Kann

Daniel E. Kann has devoted his entire legal career exclusively to defending individuals facing criminal prosecution in Southern California. Dan fights criminal cases throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.


Dan Kann Reply

Posted Nov 18, 2022 at 16:45:38

Hello Nicole. If you have a matter for which you are considering hiring an attorney, please feel free to give us a call at 888-744-7730. Thank you very much.

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