What is probable cause to search a vehicle

This ensures that the case is presented before the appropriate court before it is heard and decided. In a probable cause hearing, the defendant has the right to contest whether probable cause existed. He also has the right to waive the probable cause hearing altogether. If the defendant waives his right, it does not mean that he is admitting guilt.

Motor vehicle exception

A formal plea of guilty or not guilty is not entered until the arraignment process has been completed. If, however, the prosecution is unable to prove that probable cause existed, then the case will more than likely be dismissed even if the defendant is, in fact, guilty. Reasonable suspicion is different from probable cause.


  1. Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement.
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  3. Can Police Perform a Vehicle Search Without a Warrant?.
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While probable cause must exist before the police can arrest someone or obtain a warrant, all an officer needs is reasonable suspicion to stop someone and question him. The officer is even permitted to search for weapons if he believes the person to be armed, or to be capable of presenting an immediate threat.

Can the Police Legitimately Search My Vehicle Without a Warrant? - FindLaw

Reasonable suspicion is the reasonable belief that a crime has been, is currently being, or will soon be committed. A police officer can form reasonable suspicion based on his training as an officer, and his experience in the field, in addition to the facts and circumstances at hand. Another important difference between probable cause and reasonable suspicion is the standard by which each are measured. In other words, probable cause establishes whether another reasonable person would suspect a person of committing a crime. Reasonable suspicion, however, refers to whether another reasonable police officer would suspect a person of committing a crime.

An example of probable cause coming into question took place on November 10, Here, William Beck was driving his car in Cleveland, Ohio. While driving, he encountered the local police, who identified themselves to Beck and ordered him to pull over.

The officers did not have an arrest warrant with them, nor did they obtain a search warrant. The officers placed Beck under arrest and searched his car, but ultimately found nothing of interest. Beck was then taken to a nearby police station, where he was personally searched. Beck filed a motion to have the charges dropped, arguing that the police had obtained the slips after conducting an unreasonable search and seizure.

Contact us now to schedule a consultation with our experienced team of criminal defense lawyers. You cannot reason with the unreasonable;. Schedule your consultation today. Practice Areas.

When Can Police Perform a Search Without a Warrant?

Criminal Defense. Drug Crimes. Does the police officer require my consent to search? Drug Dogs and Traffic Stops: Rodriguez v. This case raised two of the classic problems with using drug dogs to provide probable cause: Lack of uniformity in training for police dogs Dogs are not trained to alert to all illegal substances Inaccuracy of drug dog results. This could be because: The dog handler exhibits leading behavior.

Racial profiling by the police officer is one example of this. Drug Dogs and the Home Florida v.

If you're lawfully pulled over for a traffic violation, can the police search your car?

To summarize these situations please review the chart below. Once you are pulled out of line, they can use a drug dog to sniff the outside of your car. Contact Us Today For a Consultation! Contact Us We accept the following credit cards.


  • Defining Probable Cause?
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  • Vehicle Searches.
  • Warrantless Searches of Automobiles Based on Probable Cause?.
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  • Members Of. One of the most common ways that an innocent person's car gets searched is that they reluctantly gave permission for the officer to search the car.

    Probable Cause Searches

    Officers will ask them, "Can I search your car? Once consent is granted, the officer can search every compartment and bag to look for evidence for contraband and crime. In California, if someone is driving with a suspended license or outdated license, the car can be impounded. Once impounded, the officer can do an inventory search of the car, documenting any items within the vehicle, in order to account for any property at the beginning and end of the impound.

    In reality, it is used by officers to search for contraband. Often, people driving have marijuana , cocaine , or some other item in the car that they have forgotten about. Once the search is on, when the item is found, the ticket to driving without a license is now a felony charge against them. Keep in mind that any point in time, a relatively innocent person can have their charge search.

    If an officer can state probable cause for his belief that there is an illegal item or contraband in your car or evidence of a crime in your car, he is authorized for a search without a warrant.