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When is a warrantless search legal?

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2021 | Criminal Defense

If your vehicle is stopped by a New York police officer, there is a chance that he or she may conduct a search of the car’s interior. In most cases, that person will need a warrant to do so. However, there are situations in which there is probable cause to take a closer look at your car without obtaining one.

When can authorities search your car without a warrant?

A warrantless search may be permissible if you have contraband in plain view of the officer who conducted the traffic stop. For example, if there is an open container of alcohol in your lap, that would likely provide probable cause for an expanded search of your vehicle. The smell of alcohol, marijuana, or other substances may also provide probable cause to search your car without a warrant.

Did you admit that there were illegal items in your car?

It may be possible to take a closer look at the contents of your vehicle if you admit that you’re transporting illegal goods. These goods may include alcohol, drugs, or guns that you don’t have a permit for. An officer might also search your car without a warrant if you admit to having stolen goods in your car or if the car itself is reported stolen.

Did you consent to a search of the vehicle?

In most cases, no warrant is needed to search your vehicle if you give an officer permission to do so. It’s important to note that you are under no obligation to do so. Furthermore, anything that is found in your car could be used as justification to charge you with a crime. A criminal law attorney may attempt to suppress any evidence that is found after looking inside of your car.

If you are convicted of a crime, you could be fined, sent to jail, or lose your driving privileges. However, it may be possible to obtain a favorable outcome in your case by casting doubt on the admissibility of any evidence obtained during a search of your car or truck.

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