If your car is suddenly being searched, it can easily catch you off guard and make you feel violated. However, there are times when you may be suddenly subjected to a car search. Not all car searches are warranted and they don’t always have a legitimate reason behind them. But there are times when a car search could be unexpected, yet completely legal. Examples include:
Law enforcement may receive search warrants in a number of situations when they need to gather evidence or if they suspect someone of committing a crime. When a search warrant is issued, different types of personal property may be subjected to search, which can include the suspect’s home and/or vehicle.
If someone is arrested after being pulled over, a police officer may have the right to search the vehicle. This is done prior to the car being impounded, and is often necessary so that a record can made of what items were in the car at the time of the driver’s arrest, in order to avoid potential civil liability for damage or loss of any items.
Search Incident to Arrest
If a police officer has the grounds to place the driver under arrest, there may be limited grounds for searching the vehicle. This generally only includes immediate vicinity—in other words, parts of the vehicle that can be easily searched when someone reaches inside the car.
In certain situations, a police officer may be able to search a car even without a search warrant or when no arrest is being made initially. If the police officer has a justifiable reason to search the car because he or she believes the driver may be hiding something illegal (such as drugs or weapons), then this is known as probable cause. Depending on the specifics of the situation, this can often give law enforcement a legitimate reason for searching someone’s vehicle.
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