When can a police officer search my car?

For those of you who read my “When can an Idaho police officer (fill in the blank)” blog post, you will recall that I made a list of questions about what it is exactly that the police can do.  One of those questions was “When can a police officer search my car?” For those of you who are not from Idaho, the law that I am going to cover is predominantly handed down by the United States Supreme Court and therefore applies to all States. The States are required to afford at least as much protection as the Federal government, and are allowed to offer even more. Check with a local attorney regarding your rights in your particular state.

I have decided to answer the car search question first, since as a criminal defense attorney in Boise, Idaho, it is this question that comes up the most often, and it comes up the most often because it happens so frequently, and it happens so frequently because the exceptions have been interpreted by the courts so broadly that police can search your car without a warrant under almost any circumstance.

Remember in my prior post about the Warrant Requirement, I said that the general rule is that if the police are going to search your “persons, houses, papers and effects” that they will need a warrant. But there are exceptions to the warrant requirement, so many exceptions that the they have nearly swallowed the rule.

The United States Supreme court has decided that motor vehicles deserve a reduced expectation of privacy.  And in many ways this makes sense. You do not expect the same level of privacy driving down the street in your car that you do when sitting on your couch at home. If someone stares at you through the window in your home, your are naturally going to feel more violated than you would if someone stared at you through your car window as you are driving down the road.

There are general exceptions to the warrant requirement that apply to searches of cars. These exceptions apply whether the search is done of a car, a house, or any other type of search. Those exceptions are exceptions like the exigent circumstances exception, the search incident to an arrest exception, and the police inventory exception.  We’ll discuss those exceptions in future posts. However, there is an actual automobile exception. This exception has been carved out by the courts specifically for cars.  Of all the exceptions to the warrant requirement, this exception is the most sweeping.

I won’t take you on a trip through the history of the development of the automobile exception as it exists today, just know that there is a long history here, and the rule is still developing.

The general automobile exception allows a police officer to search a car when the officer believes that there is “probable cause” that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime. Fortunately, the probable cause requirement limits the scope of when a police officer can search your vehicle.

Probable cause generally means that the investigating officer has a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime. With regard to the probable cause required for searches, it means a reasonable belief that evidence of a crime or contraband would be found in a search.

The Warrant Requirement, that we talked about previously, required that a law enforcement officer request a warrant from a judge, and the judge would decide whether there was probable cause that a search would turn up evidence of a crime.  The automobile exception now places that decision making power in the hands of the investigating officer.

What this means is, an investigating officer gets to make the decision, on scene, whether he has probable cause to search your vehicle or not. There is nothing you can do about his decision at this point. You do not get to call an attorney to appeal his decision. You will have little success in convincing the investigating officer that he does not have probable cause to search you car.

What should you do if an officer asks for consent to search your car? First, if the officer is asking you if he can search your car, then that could mean one of two things. It could mean that he has probable cause to search your car and is just being nice by asking, or it could mean that he does not have probable cause to search your car and is attempting to search your car pursuant to a different exception to the warrant requirement, namely the consent exception to the warrant requirement. If the owner of a vehicle consents to the search of their car, then no warrant is required, and no probable cause finding is required either. All of those requirements are waived by consenting to the search. Officers often ask permission, even when they believe they are certain that they have probable cause for the search, just to ensure that their case is solid. They know that if the driver consents, the chances of the evidence ever being suppressed are nil.

What you should do when an officer asks to search your car is a difficult question to answer.  On the one hand, if the officer searches you car without probable cause, but pursuant to your consent, and he finds nothing, then no harm done (other than having your right against unreasonable searches and seizures violated). On the other hand, you never know what an officer will find that may give him a basis to charge you with a crime. Prescription bottles that do not belong to you, a weapon that is concealed in violation of the law, illegal drugs from a prior owner of the car. Any number of items could be found in your car that you had never even thought were there, or ever thought could be a violation of the law.

This information of course only makes your decision that much more difficult. If you consent to the search, and the officer finds contraband, then your initial consent may lend believability to an argument that you did not know the items were there (I would not put a lot of faith in an officer believing your denial though, he likely hears the same denial by many guilty motorists on a daily basis). If you do not consent to the search, and it ends up that a judge agrees that the search was done without probable cause, then the evidence would be suppressed, and the case against you would be dismissed.

A good rule of thumb is probably to object to an officer searching your vehicle. It is not going to stop the officer from searching your vehicle, but it will provide you with a better case if and when you get to court. When you get to court, if the Judge decides that there was no probable cause to search the car, and that no other exception applied, like the consent exception, then the evidence will be suppressed, and the case against you may consequently be dismissed for lack of evidence.

Of course every situation is different, and normally you should consult with an attorney on a legal issue. The problem with search and seizure issues though is that you will not be given an opportunity to consult with an attorney regarding your rights before your car is searched. So I hope these posts provide some guidance on what your rights are, and what they mean.

If your car has been searched by the police, post your experience in the comments below. I would especially like to hear from those who have had their car searched, and nothing turned up in the search.

Boise, Idaho Criminal Defense Attorney

Craig Atkinson is the lead attorney at Atkinson Law Office,
Boise DUI and Criminal Attorneys. It is located at 1087 W River St #290, Boise, ID 83702. You can call him anytime at 208.571.0627.

Ask Craig to review your case.

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  1. I consented to have my car searched once. As a result, my toolbox was dumped out into the trunk and a jack was placed onto a trim piece which damaged it. Can they be held liable for damages? Do they not have to clean up their mess?

    A friend refused a search and was told that a drug sniffing dog would then be called in. The officer said that the dog might get excited and paw at the car, damaging the paint and that the police couldn’t be held liable for any damages. How can the police not be liable for damages caused by the drug sniffing dog?

    • I also had a canine sniff my car and my cars a small tiburon and he chewed on my purse and ripped it like a toy, clawed to try and get on my dashboard and left 2 long noticable scratches on it, and bit my 90$ sunglasses and broke them. Do they have insurence I can claim for the damages, I can take pictures I have a before picture of it actually, and it was a random acused search for no reason because I’ve never touched drugs once in my life!

  2. I was stopped for speeding by the Oregon State Police on Highway 95 just a few miles over the border. After examining my license and registration, the trooper asked if he could search my car. I said “no, there’s no reason to search my car because I’ve got nothing illegal in here.” The trooper responded “I’m going to search it anyway.” I asked why. He said “you reached into your glovebox while I was walking up and you might have been hiding something. I explained that I had pulled the license and registration he was holding out of the glovebox, which is where most normal people keep those documents, and there was nothing unusual about that. He then just told me to get out of the car, and I obeyed. After his search was finished – and he found nothing – he made me walk a line to see if I was intoxicated (I wasn’t). Unpleasant experience, which taught me that the probable cause requirement is a complete fiction, at least so far as the OSP is concerned.

  3. Dana,

    Generally the police cannot be held liable. This is due to a little thing they call “qualified immunity.” We find the origins of this law in old England when the king could not be sued. Today the rule is not as absolute as it was with the King in England. The state can be sued today, but only under limited circumstances.

    Typically suits against the state are brought by the individual whose rights were violated in Federal Court. The authority for these suits is found in 42 U.S.C., Section 1983.

    Section 1983 can only be used to sue to sue a state government when the violation was intentional, it regards a federally protected right, and the violator was acting as a state or local official.

    1983 suits are notoriously difficult to win, and the damages are usually very marginal. Consequently, few attorneys are willing to take them up.

    In your case where you consented to the search, you would have a difficult time suing. Your rights probably were not violated since you consented. Where your friend was threatened with damage to his car unless he consented, he would have a better argument since he was coerced to consent.

    There are other issues with your friends case. Did he ultimately consent. If he did not consent, was he detained while they waited for the drug dog? Was any contraband found as a result of the search?

      • Dana,
        I believe your friend would argue that his consent was coerced. To me it seems that there is no question that his rights were violated, but there is still the issue of damages. It would probably be difficult to put any type of monetary figure on his claim. And if there is no money in it, there is rarely incentive to pursue the claim.

  4. Idahoguy,

    Your rights were clearly violated. You have demonstrated a problem with the exclusionary rule in general. One of the ways of enforcing the probable cause requirement is by suppressing evidence in those cases when there was no probable cause for the search. That is what we call the exclusionary rule.
    The problem with the exclusionary rule, it provides no relief for those who are innocent of any wrong doing. It only provides relief for those who are ultimately accused of a crime. Although there are theoretical ways of suing the government, as in a section 1983 claim, like the one I answered above, those remedies are unlikely to succeed.
    If you had a bottomless wallet, and endless amounts of time, it would have been fun to sue that officer in federal court.

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  8. Last night I was arrested for dui. I was not asked by the 2nd officer, who I had no contact with, if he may search my car. He did search it without my consent. Is that legal, and if not, can the case, can the case be thrown out?

  9. I was parked in a family members drive way and a car of police officers came up and stopped behind our car. They ran up to the car while my boyfriend was already out of the car and they made him and I get out and our daughter was in the backseat sleep in her car seat. Then they proceeded to check the car without asking and checking my back pack ( Im a Digital Graphic Arts Student). I think that they only stopped and messed with us because of the neighborhood that we live in and the make and model of the car and the tent on the windows not permitting them to see inside of the car……. I ended up having a warrant, but they didn’t read me my rights or anything. Is that a violation of my rights?

    • Based on what you have told me, it appears to me that your rights have been violated. My opinion is only based upon what you have included in your scenario though, if more facts were presented, then the outcome could change.
      But determining whether your rights were violated only addresses part of your issue. Did the police find anything that was incriminating? If they did, then your remedy would be to suppress that evidence.
      If they did not find anything incriminating, then your only remedy is a civil suit.
      So then you have to ask yourself the question, how were you damaged?Did they damage your car when they searched it? Were you harmed in anyway? If the answer to these questions is no, then there would be little reason to sue to the police, since there would be no money in it.
      In other words, just because your rights were violated does not mean you will have a remedy for the violation. If the police found nothing incriminating to suppress, and there was no damage done, then not much can be done. The only other possible thing that could be done is a complaint lodged with the local Ombudsman.

  10. I live in Texas, and i was a passenger in a car. My brother was speeding and we were pulled over. They asked to search the car and my brother said yes, and they searched the car and then proceeded to search my purse and my friends purse where they found drug paraphanelia. Can they legally search my purse? I did not give them consent to do so, and I obviously wasn’t the one speeding.

  11. a few days ago i was riding with my bf and his headlights went out while driving (in pierce county,wisconsin) we had the hazards on and were making a turn to leave the hwy when a deputy reserve saw the vehicle. they pulled us over and asked for our licenses. one of the officers said they only smelled weed on the PASSENGER side of the vehicle yet when they pulled us over neither of us had smoked anything and both of us were smoking cigarettes. he made my bf step out and asked him about the pot smell and he said he didnt know why it would smell like that when neither of us smoked he handed BOTH licenses back to my bf n told him we were free to go, started walkin back to his vehicle turned around and asked my bf if he could take a look in the vehicle. now i didnt hear any of this cuz i was sitting inside the truck the whole time but they came back and asked me to step out. i placed my purse upon the dash and stepped out and they started the search when they FINISHED i noticed that the officer grab my purse off the dash and dump it onto the seat. I dont understand how they we’re able to do this without asking or at least INFORMING me, they then arrested me for having a grinder and cellophane with a small amt of weed. THEN they tried to say they found a clear baggie that contained meth which i DO NOT DO, and i know for a fact the only empty bag i had in my possession had contained the herb happy shaman. on the scene a witness and i saw the officer pour a liquid in the bag and say “im not getting anything what color is it supposed to be” they booked me and released me for the paraphernalia and possession and i heard an officer state the bag was negative over the radio in intake. about two hours AFTER i was released i returned to pick up a friend that had ALSO been arrested and they cornered me and told me that somehow the bag had tested POSITIVE! im at a loss here because while i do enjoy marijuana the other drugs are NOT for me! Does this all seem legal? and the police report includes a pipe for the paraphernalia charge but NOT the grinder they found! Also the second time in intake i heard the officers say one test was negative one was inconclusive and the third, that was performed AFTER i had been released, had SOMEHOW come back positive.. im too confused please help!!!

  12. also i was NEVER read my miranda right either time i was arrested yet the one officer tried to ask me questions pertaining to the offense once i was in custody but not on the scene and it wasn’t even the arresting officer

  13. Me and my friend we are both females went out for a late night run to the gas station for smokes and candy and I do not have a license and she does so she drove my vehicle which is a stick shift vehicle… so she dont know how to druve it vvery well any how she turned a corner and stalled the vehicle and killed it as she was trying to figure things out she accidently turned on the windsheild whipers re started the vehicle and took off kinda jolty any how the cop was tailing us for at least two blocks then pulled us over was arrogant asked us if we have been drinking then made my friend do a test and blow and she blew a .00 we dont drink any how then went from her to me asked me if he could search my vehicle and I said yes of course I dont have any thing to hide… THEY DUMPED MY WHOLE PURSE OUT ON THE CAR FLOOR TORE UP EVERY INCH OF MY CAR… be littled me and I was so imberrassed i was balling my eyes out after finding nothing and two hours later they let us go and with out tickets still i think that was the most BS THING EVER

  14. I live in Lake Los Angeles Ca. I was driving home one night after getting a pack of smokes when I was pulled over by L.A. County Sheriffs. I was never told why I was pulled over. The officer just came to my driver’s door and opened it and told me to step out. I did what was asked with no argument. I was pushed against my car told to put my hands behind my back then my car and I where searched. They pulled everything out of my pockets I was hand cuffed and basically pushed into the back seat of the police car. Pulled my car apart, I was humiliated in front of my neighbors. I basically felt like a criminal. After they where done with me they sent me, they finally told me why they pulled me over(which was for expired tags) gave me a ticket and made me feel like I was lucky that was all I got. Where they in the right to do something like that?

  15. My nephew who is 18 was driving my sons car with my 16 yr old son the police stopped them because the back window had plastic on it.He then asked to search the vehicle, my son said ok…they found a small bag with residue in it and then proceeded to take my nephew’s money as eveidence (was his paycheck) they arrested my son and then they left my nephew to walk and towed my vehicle, why couldn’t my nephew drive it home? why was I not contacted since my son is a minor and the vehicle is registered in my name?My son was charged with possesion of a controlled substance which he says he has no idea how it got there ! Any help would be great

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  17. I am 25 years old, and a successful professor and director of operations. I went to Cozumel on a cruise and was driving home from Galveston,Tx–a 10 hour trip to my home town when I was pulled over on a routine traffic violation of obstruction of a license plate due to a cover around it. When I was told I was only getting a warning he asked if I could step out and answer some questions on where we were coming from. As soon as I said Cozumel if was an immediate switch to “do you have any large amounts of cocaine, weed or money” he then proceeded to accuse me of this, then asked my friend. He asked if we had been arrested before, which we both had been on non-drug related charges and he asked to search my truck. I consented and he said “I smell marijuana” haha I have never once let one person smoke a cigarette in my truck let alone pot. I said ok whatever I have nothing in my truck that would cause that smell. He tore apart all of my single cab truck and baggage then called a second officer-no k9 for some reason–second trooper went thru the same search even searched my engine and when he did he mentioned the first cop had a pound of marijuana in his trunk all day— um hello why was it not in evidence??–any ways.. An hour later sunburnt and pissed I was let go with my warning and $1000 in damage to My truck. I’m filing complaints and have a lawyer handling the rest. It was downright harassment–

  18. I am 50 years old and was pulled over in Baraboo, WI for a loud exhaust, so they say, never pulled over before. They did not ask about searching my vehicle just told me they were going to put the dog on it and then did so. The officer walking with the dog was tapping on the car and the dog jumped which they say was the dog hitting on something. The officer then searched the inside of the car and found absolutely nothing. This is the first time in my 30+ years of driving this has ever happened to me. The officer seemed to be more interested in my daughter whom I had just visited and where I was going than anything. I will be going to file a complaint on this in the morning. I’m sure it wont do any good but I felt violated and it was a traumatic experience for me as I have never been involved with anything illegal and all they kept asking me was if I did drugs or had friends/family who did. They also told me I may want to get my car cleaned out because I would probably be pulled over again. Considering the main reason for pulling me over was supposingly my exhaust, I was never issued a written warning, ticket or anything for that. After obtaining the information they needed to verify no warrants and registration of my vehicle their computers in their cars (there were 2) miraculously went down so they said they were unable to print out the warning they were going to give me regarding the exhaust. I did ask what reason they had to search my car and they said they were searching vehicles at random. I drive around town a lot every day and have not seen anyone pulled over by the k-9 unit lately so sounded a little fishy to me. I felt harassed and as I said violated. I have a lot of health problems and also an issue with anxiety, this is not helping.

  19. Oh, there were no charges or warnings made for anything and after they searched my vehicle, my person and my purse I was free to go home. Will be contacting Baraboo Police Department tomorrow to file my complaint. If you can offer any advice at all, I would appreciate it.

    • Anna,
      This type of thing happens more often than you would think. A K-9 search has been held by the courts, at least in Idaho, to not actually be a search. The officers can run a dog around the car, and it is not a violation of your rights. Now the court’s have also held that they cannot prolong the detention for longer than would be necessary to complete the stop. So for example, if they were stopping you for a speeding violation, one officer would effectuate the stop, and another officer could run a dog around your vehicle. However, they cannot just pull people over to run a dog around your vehicle. I hope something comes of your filing of a complaint.

  20. My boyfriend was pulled over. The police officer said he resisted with a vehicle due to the fact that he did not pull over the moment he turned on his lights. He was arrested. The police searched his vehicle, tore the seat completely off, caused damage to the dash board and damages to the seats. They did not find anything. My question is can they be held responsible for the damamges that they caused? State of Indiana.

    • Alexis,

      The short answer is yes, they can be held responsible. I have seen some municipalities simply pay to have the vehicle restored to avoid the headache of defending a lawsuit. If they do not, you will need to retain an attorney to sue the city/county/state.

  21. I live in Massachusetts. Smoking weed is dicriminalized here. Can a cop still search my car if he sees me smoking in it or smells weed smoke? Will it be considered a dui even if the engine is off?

  22. I got pulled over, gave the officer license, registration and insurance, he said ill be right back. before he came back there was a dog goin around my car. I said what’s up with the dog? he said you have previous marijuana charges(from 4plus yrs ago) he got that from running my plates, pulled me out of the car and asked to search me, i said no then two other cops grabbed both my arms and they searched me anyway. I ended up with a class c felony. Did they have the right?

  23. I got stopped for a traffic violation and the officer smelled marijuana in my truck and decided to search it. He found two pipes and a grinder and papers. Charged me with possession of drug paraphernalia. What do I do?

  24. I drove 3,000 miles from my home to help my mother in a small town in Oklahoma. On 10/10/2011 she left the house and walk into a busy street; and when I asked her to come back she got angry. She then disappeared. I called the police to help me find her. To make a long story short, she told police to throw me out of my family house. I left without any of my belongings, including cash saved to get home. She got a protective order aganst me, and proceded to call police telling them I was carrying guns and drugs in my car. I have never owned a gun and never hae used drugs. I was searched in a walmart after she told police, “she is carrying a gun and will kill people in the store”. The police searced me at two restaurant and in front of McDonalds. When I walked into the police station to ask why they were searching so much I was handcuffed and pul in jail. I am a 100 lb. woman who spent eight on the cold floor of a holding cell without food or water. The police finally had to release me to the hospital because I was unconscious. One of the hospital employees drove me to the airport. I nearly died because of a false protective order, and I have never done anything violent in my life.

  25. This post was very informative.
    My experience was late 1 night at a gas station. I was not stop I was filling up my car with gas. The police officer pulled up to my car and he asked me if I was riding dirty or clean I proceeded tell him clean he asked me to smell my car. he then became he demanded the key from he demanded the key from me and snatched from my hand open my car without mypermisson and began searchin my car he found small contraband and wrote me a ticket pta i felt like my rights were violated

  26. i was pulled over for not using my blinker, the officer asked to see reg. ins.D.L the truck belongs to roommate, i havea big past, havent been in trouble since 2002, only one time for drugs in “86”. he asked to search, i said no, he said he had a k-9 unit comming. they walked the dogon the drivers side, dog started getting excited, so they say thats probable cause, i understand that part, but what i dont understand is why was the k-9 unit called on a no blinker stop? roommate has never been arrested, i asked the officer why they were searching and he said cause the dog alerted. they found a bowl of weed, i know the officer couldnt smell it. can they search because of a persons past?

  27. http://m.facebook.com/denisemmccann?v=photos&__user=
    I live in a small town in the Napa Valley area, in Ca. I was walking to my vehicle Ina quiet area of town, when a police officer pulled up, & began questioning me as to where I was going, & why I was there. I told him that I’d stopped to look for a feral cat that had run into the street, & after not finding it, was returning to my car. I was parked in a public area, legally. He ordered me out of my car, & said, ” request permission to search your vehicle”. I was shocked by the request, & asked him what “probable cause” he had to request a search. He was very rude, & refused to answer my question, & I knew he had no probable cause to make the request. He called in my drivers license, which was clean, & expects to be let go. Instead, he began bullying me, & refused to allow me to leave, (he had made me get out if my car), & refused to let me get back into my car. He detained me there for almost 2 1/2 hours, repeating to me over & over, “request permission to search your vehicle”. At one point, he made me get into the patrol car, grabbing my arm, & pushing me first against the front of the patrol car, then inside, & closing the door. I knew that I had nothing in my car, & that he had no cause, but after being detained for so long, in an isolated area, I finally agreed to allow him to search my car. He tore up several items in my car, one item was an eyeglasss ex, & broke out two interior lights. ( He had actually called for back
    up, first). Neither of the two officers who searched my car found anything, & after about 3 hours, allowed me to leave. I was so furious thatI wanted to file a complaint against the officer, but my husband convinced me that he would continue to hassle me if I filed a complaint. I only agreed because 15 yrs. prior, I had a similar altercation with an officer in town, & I did report it. The first time, an officer had approached me in my driveway, with my two young children there, ‘& had hassle me, even threatening to ” throw me into the back of his car, & take me to jail”. I was a recent graduate of the Police Academy, & a Ca. state certified law enforcement dispatcher at that time, so I told him that he had no ability to do more than issue me a $50.00 petty theft ticket. (I had taken a 12 yr old neighbor kids sneakers home, after 5 attempts to speak to his parents, after he had broken into my garage, then pushed my 6 yr old son into the street in front of a bus, & could never find his parents at home, & I had told the boy to send his parents over to get the shoes, which showed “no intent to permanently deprive”, & were value at less than $50. The cop freaked out & lunged at me, I barely made it into my house & closed my door. After reporting him, the watch commander spike to me 1st by phone, then asked to come & video tape ny statement. By the time the WC arrived, I’d realized what was going on. I asked him if I was the 3rd complaint, & if the officer was still on probation. He looked shocked that I figured it out, until I told him my background. I did as asked, & the watch commander was at my house that night, warning me that a restraining order had been taken out against the officer. I said, “he threatened to kill me, didn’t he”? To which he replied yes. (That’s why I let the 2nd incident go, in part).
    BTW, I am a 53 yr old wife & mother of 3, with no arrest history, & a clean DMV. What do you suggest a person living in an area with a high ratio of “51-50” officers do in cases like this?

  28. I was recently pulled over in Texas for speeding, the officer asked to search and I consented thinking he may go easy for cooperating. He made me and my passenger get out and we waited in the cold while he searched the entire car. He found nothing gave me a citation and we went on. However, on the citation it specifically says that there was no search performed, what can I do to contest this?

  29. a police office searched a rental that was parked with doors unlocked inside he found codine/perks. on arival to the car my son and his freind was arrested for traffing a illegal substance. they both have a 3 million dollar bond and court date in jan. this happened in oct in raliegh nc. the car wasnt in there names, the contents wasnt there’ and i recieved a tax bill .

  30. I live in a small town in Massachusetts. Last night after driving around smoking some pot i pulled over in a parking lot to let my friend step of for a cigarette. To our luck 30 seconds after my friend finished and stepped back into my car a local cruiser pulled in and came right up behind my car, The ony car in the parking lot. He asked what we were doing and i had told him that we just stopped to let my friend smoke a cigarette and were about to leave. He then proceeded to tell me my car smelt of “raw weed” and i denied smoking or having anything even on or with me. He went to the passenger side of my car and said that it smelt even stronger over there. He asked my friend to step out of the car, my friend did. (First question is did the cop posess the right to ask my friend from the car? If not what could me or my friend have said to the cop if not?) He patted down my friend an found nothing. Then without saying a word with me still buckled into the drivers seat he stepped into my passenger seat and started going through my things rught in front
    Of me. (2nd questiom, was this legal? Should i have said something? What could i have said legally?) He continued to ask if we wree hidig anything, any ounces stuck under the seat or anything and we continued to deny all questions of illegal substances (he will still only going on the probably cause of raw marijuana, which my car clearly smelt, but it was of a burnt joint, two distictively different smells) he then proceede to the drivers side of the car and ordered me from the vehicle and patted me down. He asked me to step out of the way and i said “officer i dont consent to you searching my vehicle” and his response was “i can smell raw marijuana, that is probably cause” and proceeded with his search. He found the pipe i had in my center console but found nothing else. He told me and my friend we could get back into the car. He stated that the parkin lot we were in closes after dusk, my friend questioned if there were no trespassing signs or any signs at all posting times people were allowed in the lot. And the cops didnt even know, they fumbled with their words eventually saying “yes i think there might be one but im not sure”. He handed my license back to me and took my pipe. Then said we were free to go. Please give me some insight to if any of this were illegal. I was under the impression the smell of marijuana was no longer a probable cause for search in massachusetts since it was decriminalized. And was he allowed to take my pipe if that was all he found?

  31. My boyfriend was pulled over for a blown headlight. He had a passenger in his car whom was a convicted felon. The officer searched the passenger because he was a felon and found prescription drugs thay was not prescribed to him. The officer then had my boyfriend get out of his car and stand next to the cop car while he left the passenger (felon) in my boyfriends car. The cop, without asking for permission then searched my boyfriends car. Is it legal/ proper search for an officer to search someone’s car just because a felon was a passenger in the car?? I think this would be invading my boyfriends privacy since this was HIS car, and is not a felon….the passenger was.

  32. I live in arena county Michigan and the police came to my house and started searching around my property and my truck they said they had paint chips linking my truck to a trail or being stolen and kept asking me were it was and if I didn’t tell them they were taking my truck and they did with no warrant nothing I could do absolutely nothing about it

  33. My question is simple…can an officer search your car after they find out you have been arrested previously? Such as having a prior criminal record give police officers the right to search your car?

  34. Today, Three police officers and a girl showed up at my boyfriends house asking to search his car because the girl had a late night and lost her phone and her iphone finder said it was “around the spot where the car was parked”. My bf let them search the car but was that enough probable cause? they made him drive down the street to see if the signal moved and it didnt!and NO PHONE. The started looking around other areas outside the house. The girl said she would print a paper for the police showing that thats the spot where the finder says the phone is. Is that paper enough probable cause for the police to come back tomorrow and possiby search my house because the finder says the phone is near by???

  35. Last night, me and my friend were smoking in his car. 2 cops rolled up and asked yo search it. We gave them everything (bong and blunt). We were sitting outside if his house and in his jeep. We were put into handcuffs and put in the car. One of the officers came up to me, took my keys, pressed the unlock button and say my car. Both officers just opened it up and searched i feel like they had no right to touch my car. We were inside of his Jeep

  36. ok so i just left walmart because i bought a bulb for a headlght i noticed was out needless to say it was pouring rain out that night so i was just gonna wait til i got home. anyway got pulled over the officer approaches ask for the ain three DL, registration, and proof of insurance i give him all three he comes back and says i pulled you over for your headlight. i then told the officer i just bought a headlight 5 mins ago see heres my recipt. i even told hi i was gonna change it in parking lot but it was pouring rain out. i even got out of the car and swapped the bad bulb..i get back in my car he brings y dl,insuranc back to my window and ask to see y passengers id.. she handed it to him no problem..but he says i need to step out the car i asked what for he said because im the police now get out…all i did was say ok so i got out but i locked my car doors. he said mr _____ do you have any guns drugs or anything ilegal i said no sir he said well you kinda fit the profile and when you locked your doors when you got out gives me probable cause to search your vehicle. i said no sir i dont agree but he ade me stand to the side and made my passenger get out while he started looking around in my car, had female cop come out search my passenger finds nothing they searched me found nothing another officer searches my car finds nothing then the original cop says hes got something bring the dog out–keep in mind im saying no to all consents to search but they bring out the k9 he did find a 2gra bag of pot inside my gas cap. my lawyer wants to know what gave the cop probable cause in the first place to even pull me and passenger out of vehicle for search just for a headlight out that when the officer addressed the issue i produced a reciept from when i bought it ten minutes prior to the stop, even got out and fixed the issue.why did he id my passenger then have me get out the car to confirm that the passengers name was ___

  37. I had just dropped my sister off at home after picking her and her friends up from a bar. I the. Went to get my underage drunk p high friend. On the way there at 1:30am a cop got behind me and followed me. I was then pulled over and asked if I had drank anything or if I was on drugs. I didn’t drink for weeks at this point and told him the exact date I drank, witch was When I move In my college house at wvu a month earlier, as I do not smoke and at the time i didnt even drink in NJ. I was asked to walk a line and all that good stuff. They were shining lights in my eyes and asked why my pupils were small(what drug i was on) and i said your lights are in my eyes, they said that wasn’t the reason at witch point i said what drug makes you pupils small they all make your pupils big.They searched my moms truck and then said they were gonna tow it and take me to the station and test my blood. A bunch of questions and harassing later they said i was going to the station, before they hand cuffed me I asked if he payed for the Tow when the blood test proves me innocent. At that point the two officers looked at each other And at 3am called my parents to come get me. He told them he is certain i was on something and told my parents to wait a minute before they could drive me home. At that point he asked me what I was on I sad nothing but also said I was going to pick underage kids up at a party I also said the car that passed us and beeped was my shit faced friend that I was going to pick up. I got in trouble for waking my parents up. Mount laurel cops are such jokes

  38. My son and I were going out for coffee when his car was stopped for failing to make a. left turn signal.His licence was run and it came backwith a previously dismissed charge of marihuana and narcotics possesion. The police asked to search thecar, My son refused,they brought the dogs,then fósiles they smelled something,they found nothing,then proceeded to search me.They found nothing.Is that legal in North Carolina?

  39. I had my car searched without giving my consent and nothing illegal turned up. Another time I gave permission not knowing there was two thirds of a joint left in the console very clearly visible. The officer not only didn’t arrest me but left it there to be smoked a short time later and said my honesty went a long way when he didn’t even give me the speeding ticket I was stopped for. I give officers respect until they disrespect me.

  40. I was followed for many miles. I was pulled over for swaying in my lane. I said so I crossed one of the lines and he said no. I wouldn’t consent to search even know I had nothing hide. The cop tells me I was being detained until dog arrives. I said so I’m being arrested for what. He said I told u your being detained until dog arrives. So I said well dont you have a time frame that you can detained. He said as long I want no time frame on stops. They already knew my wife was waiting on me. I said well what’s gonna happen the dog will walk around and do anything and you say he hit on something and violate my rights anyway. So I let them search so I could leave almost a hour has passed. They didn’t find anything of course but they took their time. I was always a passenger in another case and son was driving.

  41. I was pulled over last Saturday by a state trooper in San Angelo ,tx I was told I was recieving a warning for speeding and if I could step out the car real quick why he got got my warning haha . It quickly turned into a interrogation for me and my gf he asked me basic questions and would cross reference with he then out of nowhere starting asking if I had drugs etc in the car which I responded no would you have reasonable belief that I do ? He said well you wouldn mind if I searched the car would you ? I told him I wouldn’t except for the fact that I’m protected under the fourth amendment from unreasonable search without probable cause . He brought up the ” totality of circumstances” the nervousness and deceptions in the questions ( which I answered honestly) . He continued anyway and called a k9 unit . The second officer was worst threatening jail time and profiling us as whatever criminal activity he thought we were doing. the dog circled my five times no reaction ( nothing illegal in the car) .as I thought I was going to be able to leave they claimed the dog picked up twice I told them no it didn’t and that this was wrong they ignored and continued…. 45 min later after searching my car and coming up with nothing the officer angrily went back to his car leaving me on the side of the road with my warning in hand . Is there any kind of defense against over zealous police officer s who would rather harass and profile than protect and serve ? Would you consider the search unconstitutional?

  42. Here’s a good one for ya ”

    I was out with a buddy and a female , I drove back from Mesa at 2 am I started to have my low blood sugar issue which almost makes me pass out as I have on the stool at the local frys Kroger store , at this point I have to get off he freeway ASAP in doing so a highway patrol officer hit his lights on me . He asked if I was ok I said yeah but I’m hypoglycemic and I need at least 3candy bars -I am still in the infant stages as my tests show up negative for diabetes – but have the purple ankles , cuts heal slowly , blurred vision , tingling in the legs or tips of my toes anyway he gets me out of the car I can barley stand he says to got to the rear of my car as I am there holding myself up , he is searching my car !comes over to me and asks if I’d concent to a field test I said sure had me follow the pen with my eyes said ok that was it went back over to my car after a few minutes Hurrys over and places me under arrest for possession of meth , as I am still sick I start to feel even worse in the back of the cop car , so after getting his attention with I’m gonna puke he opens the door and I puke and then pass out . Aim woken up by fire dept slapping me in the face asking what I took .while being booked into jail this dps officer tells every cop at every check in what a wonderful performance I did maybe I should get an Oscar . Oh I almost forgot this officer did not read me my rights until he took me to the station and said if I would give a blood sample and that if I refused he was gonna take my lic for a year .after my release on OR I obtained the services of a lawyer needless to say I’m still confused – I have 2 felony convictions in 98,99 and released in 2002 and have not had any contact with the law since then , I was given 1 plea deal
    18 months probation
    29 days in jail with work furlough
    3700.00 fine
    Yesterday was my last day to sign it or go to trial well when they say 29 days or 4 yrs min if you lose what would you do ??? So I signed it and as I was confirming to the judge I gave him a long pause , so long my lawyer had to whisper in my ear . Now here’s the juicy part , my friend lost that in my car 1 hr prior to my stop and during my search for my lic insurance Ect I touched the bag it was in under a lot of papers on my seat , I had told the officer that it was not mine and he said I can’t deliver someone would be sitting on that seat , the item was not in plain sight as he stated I told my defense-less lawyer do you think he brought that up to anyone , did he even get the video he said he was gonna get -never heard one more thing about it -I have 27 days to make some kind of move to stop these proceedings and get the officer his due desserts anyone with interest in my case please email me LILFLOWER26at cox dot net .

  43. I had my truck searched yesterday as I pulled up to the probation office with my boyfriend to let him check in for probation. The reason they gave me for pulling us over was seeing them put his seatbelt on on the road. When he said that he was on probation, they immediately searched him and searched the side of the vehicle he was sitting on. They told me that they were able to do this without a warrant because he is on probation. I had failed to pay a ticket in May and signed up for amnesty court to pay it on June 21st. I told them about this and that I had a money order with the ticket amount in my purse. They put me in handcuffs and told me they were arresting me for the bench warrant, then took my purse and searched it. They found drug paraphenalia inside it so I have another charge for that. Is the fact that I had a felon on probation riding with me to report to probation all the probable cause they need to search my car?

  44. I had my car searched after I told them no. They said I looked suspicious that I looked like the one to have drugs in my car. I was at a check point for impaired drivers I wasn’t drunk nor I had I been drinking. I said there’s nothing in the car you don’t need to search my car they searched my car anyway they found nothing then I heard them talking trying to figure out something to charge me with n I had my kids n teenager with me. I feel like I was totally violated of my rights all these officers where not white but I am is this racism.???

  45. Straight to the point my 19 year old & VERY close friend of the family had my car parked at there college while my son enter to take a test. Both kids no to there classes and my son gets into a argument and gets arrested inside of the school . 2 hours later they go and dog sniff my car which is parked legal being driven by the friend of they family , tow it find and clean loaded locked gun@charge my son with the gun. That came back with no prints ,Clean ,,, LOADED @ LOCKED in clove compartment ..my son was blocks away from my car the school parking plate was registered to the FRiend of the family which who was driving..and they take the car . We are fighting the seizure a felony fill a motion to throw out the search which include the gun! DEDIED,,,,, WTF ,,, how what is this place turning into ,,, TRUE THERE SHOUDNT have been a gun ,,,,

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