Can the police search my car?

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

In New Jersey, you have the right to be secure from illegal searches and seizures while in your vehicle.

States law only allows officers to search your vehicle without consent under specific circumstances.

Searches without a warrant

The 4th Amendment protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure by requiring officers to produce a warrant before conducting a search. However, there is an exception for automobiles under certain conditions.

For example, if the police pull you over on suspicion of illegal activity, they could search your vehicle without a warrant. However, they would need to prove they had real and reasonable circumstances to constitute suspicion. Having a feeling you did something illegal is not an adequate excuse.

Searches after an arrest

Another case in which the police have the legal right to search your vehicle is after a valid arrest. For example, if they pull you over for speeding and find you driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can arrest you and search your vehicle.

However, they still have to have a reason to search the vehicle. An arrest alone is not a reason. They must have probable cause to conduct a search. Typically, the probable cause for arrest is sufficient probable cause for a search. However, that is not always the case. For example, if they pull you over for speeding and find you driving on a suspended license, they have no real need to search the vehicle for further evidence.

In New Jersey, any evidence collected as a result of an illegal search and seizure is not admissible in court.


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