Whether you have broken the law or not, getting pulled over by the police can be a nerve-wracking experience. The anxiety becomes worse when the police officer requests your permission to search the car. Generally, police should have a search warrant to conduct a search. This is according to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, some exemptions to search warrants exist.
The following circumstances might allow the police to search your vehicle without a warrant.
When you consent
Police might search your car for drugs without a warrant if you authorize them. For that reason, when a police officer asks if they can search your car, you are under no compulsion to agree. However, ensure that you remain calm and decline their request politely. If they insist on searching without your consent and find anything incriminating, the evidence will likely be inadmissible in court.
Search incident to a lawful arrest
If you are legally arrested, the police might search your car or areas surrounding you within their reach without a warrant. This is done to ensure no people or weapons pose a threat to the arresting officers.
There’s probable cause
Probable cause means the police are required to show proof supporting their belief that you were involved in an unlawful activity. For instance, if an officer sees a drug-related item in your car, smells marijuana, or even sees marijuana smoke coming from your vehicle.
Police can stop you for many reasons. However, that doesn’t give them the right to search your car. So, if you have been subjected to a search without a warrant, consider seeking legal guidance. This will help you determine whether the search was legal or not while at the same time protecting your constitutional rights and defending yourself against criminal charges that resulted from the search.