A Fourth Amendment Exception
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees “the
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” While
in most cases this means that a warrant must be obtained before police
can search your property, the Supreme Court has established something
known as the “motor vehicle exception.”
Why Motor Vehicles are the Exception
In Carroll vs United States (1925), the Supreme Court determined that a
police officer does not need a warrant to search a motor vehicle as long
as he or she has probable cause to believe that evidence or contraband
is located in the vehicle. The court gave two reasons for the motor vehicle
exception. First, they said, people have a lower expectation of privacy
within their vehicles than they do in their homes. Secondly, the ease
of mobility in a motor vehicle creates an inherent exigency to prevent
the removal of evidence and contraband.
What is “Probable Cause”?
What constitutes “probable cause” in motor vehicle search cases
varies from incident to incident. The Supreme Court hasn’t laid
down any strict guidelines.
In addition to the motor vehicle exception, there are other circumstances
which allow the police to search your vehicle without a warrant.
- If you are pulled over and arrested for a crime, an officer may search
the passenger compartment of your car.
- In addition, an officer may search the passenger compartment of your car
if he or she has reasonable suspicion that a weapon may be there.
- Lastly, police may search all sections of your car (trunk included) if
they have your consent or the consent of the person who has actual or
apparent control over the vehicle.
If you did not give an officer consent to search your vehicle and believe
you may have been subjected to an unlawful search, you need the help of
New Braunfels criminal defense attorney.
Contact the Kyle Law Firm today to set up a free consultation.