In California, can police search your car without permission? 11 Answers as of February 11, 2011

In California, can police search your car without permission?

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Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
Yes, under many circumstances they have probable cause to search. The courts have given them wide discretion with suspicion or safety reasons. Even if not justified and it is illegal, so what, you suffered no harm no foul except to your dignity, unless contraband was found or something else related to the search resulted in arrest and/or seizure. Your remedy then is to defend the criminal charges and raise evidence suppression motions regarding illegal search and seizure. Now, if you need to hire counsel to defend you, feel free to contact me.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/11/2011
Tomas M. Flores, Esq.
Tomas M. Flores, Esq. | Tomas M. Flores
Police can look into the car for things in plain view, however, the search needs to be supported by probable cause or incident to arrest for a lawful search.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/11/2011
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
Depends on the circumstances.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/11/2011
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
They can only search your car if they have probable cause to think you have evidence of criminal activity hidden in your car.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/11/2011
The Morales Law Firm
The Morales Law Firm | Chris Morales
Sometimes, I'd need more information to give you a better answer.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/11/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    That depends. You did not provide enough information to provide specific advice to you. An officer has a lot of discretion to search your vehicle under several exceptions to the unlawful search and seizure protections of the 4th Amendment. It depends upon why you were stopped. I have seen a Court deny a suppression motion brought under Penal Code section 1538.5 even when the officers arrested a man in a store for shoplifting and then took his key fob to the parking lot, kept pressing it to activate his alarm, found the car, and then searched it, finding controlled substances within. Sounds crazy, and I think it was wrong, but they got away with it. A random stop for a traffic infraction should not allow a thorough search of your car without your permission if you are not on probation or if the there is no objective evidence of any other crime being committed. Of course, many, many police officers will lie, and say that you gave them permission to search, even when there are drugs inside the car. As if anyone would consent to a search of a car in which they knew the officer would find drugs. Believe it or not, some people do so consent, but in general it stretches credulity to the point of breaking to believe it happens as often as I read it in the police reports from my cases. Consult an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in your area for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/10/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    No, unless there is probable cause or you consent to the search. Realize that many people consent without knowing it. For example, if you don't complain about the search or ask them to stop, you may have implicitly consented.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/10/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    This cannot be answered without more facts. Did they have probable cause to stop you (speeding,bad tail light, etc) and did they then smell MJ. Did they ask permission to search and you refused but they blew you off and searched anyway. Call me and I will tell be able to give you a better answer once I know more facts.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/10/2011
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    Police must have probable cause to search absent exigent circumstances or a probation clause.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/10/2011
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