The Fourth Amendment protects you against an unlawful search and seizure of your property, including your vehicle, by a police agency. As such, an officer must present a warrant or show probable cause for a search. You can also give consent to a search, but many people are unaware they can deny consent as well.
What about your trunk? Can a police officer search your trunk during a traffic stop? It’s a question we feel is worth exploring in this space today. And by the way, if you feel your rights have been violated in any way during a traffic stop, contact a Tennessee criminal defense law firm now for legal counsel.
When Can The Police Search Your Car?
As mentioned, an officer can search your car if they have a warrant, probable cause, or your consent. It’s unlikely a police officer will have a warrant handy at the scene. But an officer can proceed with a search if there is reasonable cause to believe a crime may have been committed.
But let’s talk about consent for a minute. Your consent to a search must be voluntary. If a police officer threatens to arrest you if you don’t give consent, that is not voluntary consent. Rolling down your window and speaking with an officer is not consent either.
An officer may ask you to step out of the car. If you obey his or her instructions and the officer starts searching your car, that does not mean you have given the police your consent. If you feel a search was executed without your voluntary consent, contact Dotson & Taylor now to discuss your rights and your options.
Can The Police Search Your Trunk During A Traffic Stop?
If you consent to a vehicle search, that consent usually applies to the car’s trunk as well. However, if there is a purse, backpack, or another container in the trunk, the officer will need your voluntary consent before they can search it. Again, you can always deny consent if you do not want the police to search your car.
A police officer can search your car and trunk without a warrant under the automobile exception of the Fourth Amendment. If the police believe that evidence of contraband, weapons or another illegal item is in the car, they have a duty to remove that evidence. If they were to let you, the driver, go while they obtain a warrant, there’s a good chance the evidence could go missing. As an example, if a police officer notices illegal firearms or drugs in plain view in the car, they have the right to search the car and the trunk at the time of the traffic stop.
Get Help From A Skilled Tennessee Criminal Law Attorney Today
Did you suspect that a police officer unlawfully searched your trunk or your vehicle? Get the information you need to discover your rights – and protect them. At Dotson & Taylor, we know what rights the law provides for you, and we have the experience of successfully fighting for our clients’ cases in unlawful search cases. If your rights have been violated, don’t fight it by yourself. Enlist the help of Dotson & Taylor now.
Contact us for a free initial consultation and case review. We’ll answer all of your questions today.