It can feel like the police have the power to do anything. However, you have certain constitutional rights, including a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that police do not have free reign to search your vehicle as they see fit.
If your Fourth Amendment rights are violated during a search of your vehicle, any evidence obtained during the illegal search will likely be inadmissible in court. Of course, you should discuss the details of your situation with a skilled professional who can inform you of your options.
When can the police search your vehicle?
Generally speaking, the police may only perform a legal search of your vehicle when:
- They have probable cause to suspect criminal activity
- They have a valid search warrant
- They have a warrant for your arrest
- You grant them consent to search your vehicle
The main exception to the above rules is when evidence is in plain sight. If a police officer views incriminating evidence while standing outside of your vehicle’s windows, they may search your car.
What do I do if the police ask to search my vehicle?
You can grant police the right to search your vehicle. You can also ask them to produce a valid search warrant before conducting a search. If the police persist in performing a search that you believe to be illegal, politely inform them as such. Continuing to argue with the police or acting in a belligerent manner will not do you any favors. Remember, illegally gathered evidence is probably inadmissible.