How long can a policeman possess your property? 4 Answers as of July 20, 2011

My son was pulled over for a cracked windshield and the policeman wanted to search his car and he wouldn't give him permission. They took the car and told him they would get a warrant to search it. How long can they keep the car? The policeman said he would get to it when he felt like it.

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Andersen Law PLLC
Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
They can keep it only long enough to complete the search. However, did they have a warrant to seize the vehicle to begin with or did the officers call it an "impound?" Was your son's license suspended? The way to address this situation is to bring a motion to return the vehicle with the court that issued the search warrant. The best way to do that is to hire an attorney. If your son had anything illegal in the vehicle, he should already have a lawyer to protect him.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/20/2011
Law Office of Andrew Subin
Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
They can keep it for investigation for a reasonable time (I would say around 72 hours). You should write a letter to the police department demanding the immediate release of the vehicle.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/19/2011
Law Office of James A Schoenberger
Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
There has to be more to this then you have related. Law enforcement cannot search or seize a vehicle unless they have probable cause a crime has been committed and that evidence of that crime can be found in the vehicle.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/19/2011
Law Office of Michael Brodsky
Law Office of Michael Brodsky | Michael Brodsky
Your son was correct in refusing to consent to a search and should not be punished by an indefinite loss of his vehicle. It sounds like the officer "impounded" the car in order to obtain a search warrant. There are very specific rules, procedures and time limits involved in an impound. The officer cannot give it back 'when he feels like it'. You should contact an attorney familiar with search and seizure issues as well as impound and forfeiture.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/18/2011
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