2015年10月10日

Police Search of a Car

When police get suspicious and think that a car is hiding illegal contraband, it is constitutionally permissible to search that vehicle. This was a ruling in the state of Michigan where the driver of that vehicle was subsequently arrested for drug possession. That case aside, most people don't know they're rights when it comes to a police search of a car and rely instead on things they've heard.

Getting past rumor, when is it permissible for the police to search a car? The Fourth Amendment is designed to protect people from Unreasonable Search & Seizure and this applies to unwarranted searches of vehicles. The Supreme Court has also weighed in on a number of cases where warrant less searches was conducted. In most instances, the police officer is allowed to search a car if there is "probably cause" to warrant it. Probable cause can be anything from a hunch to suspicion based on the activity of the driver. Something in the car owner's behavior, physical appearance, demeanor or the physical appearance of the vehicle may give a police officer probable cause.

It usually takes a police officer to get suspicious if your driving isn't normal. You may be driving erratically from side to side; you may pull over when you see a cop on your tail instead of just continuing ahead. You may also speed up when a police officer is nearby. All of these things can prompt suspicion on the police officer's side of things, and the next thing you know, he or she wants to make sure you're legal.

There have also been other cases where something suspicious is in "plain view" which will prompt a police of a car. Anything in plain view can be seized and can also start a full car search. This same reasoning is applied to the trunk of a person's car if there is a strong belief that something in the trunk may be illegal.

Law enforcement generally believes that there is an expected advance warrant requirement due to the mobile nature of their jobs. This gives them license to execute warrant less police searches of a car based on hunch and police expertise. The probable cause standard is easy to meet in most cases. It is actually harder to prove that a police officer didn't have probable cause in many cases. Most of the cases where this has been challenged are when racial profiling came into play or lack of consent or in a small exception in traffic violations.

In a recent Supreme Court ruling, Knowles v. Iowa - it was stated that the police search of a car or driver cannot take place during routine traffic stops. This is a small victory for people who are subject to racial profiling. Getting a ticket for running a light can no longer be translated into a full scale search and it has weakened the probable cause argument in the people's favor. The reason the court made this decision is because they felt that traffic violations are not usually connected to criminal activities. As a result, this doesn't tie into the "reasonable suspicion" clause by the police officer. This will contain when and under what circumstances the police search a car.

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posted by Calvin Blog at 10:47| Comment(0) | 日記 | 更新情報をチェックする
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