Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney Explains Vehicle Searches

vehicle searchesVehicle searches generally do not require a warrant because there is a diminished expectation of privacy in cars and courts have given police pretty broad authority to conduct vehicle searches based on probable cause. Upon arresting a driver, law enforcement can conduct a search incident to a lawful arrest – even after a DUI. The DUI in and of itself did not provide the necessary probable cause, but the Supreme Court has found that officers have a right to conduct vehicle searches for the purposes of officer safety and to take an inventory of the property inside the vehicle. According to the Supreme Court, vehicle searches allow officers to search the entire car – includes glove compartments and any other areas inside the car.

Unsettled Questions of Law Relating to Vehicle Searches

A somewhat murky area of the law relating to vehicle searches involves motor homes or RVs because they are both homes and vehicles. In the case of California v. Carney, 471 U.S. 386 (1985), the Supreme Court held that even though Carney lived in the motor home, the police did not need a warrant because Carney had the ability to move the motor home quickly. Because of his ability to move the vehicle quickly while simultaneously being able to discard incriminating evidence, the Supreme Court concluded that the warrant would become a nullity.

The Carney case was somewhat unique with regard to vehicle searches because Carney’s motor home was parked in a parking lot and not a location used for residential purposes. Thus, if Carney was parked in a trailer park and had hooked up plumbing and electricity, it would be much more difficult for him to quickly move the vehicle to another location. The Court noted that if such a situation was to arise, the police would need a warrant.

Other Articles on Your Constitutional Rights

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in Fairfax VA

If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with a crime on the basis of vehicle search, you need a Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney who can assert your rights by filing and arguing a motion to suppress the evidence against you. Contact the Law Offices of Randall Sousa now for a free consultation with a Virginia criminal lawyer. 571-354-6164

If you believe that you were convicted of a crime as a result of an illegal vehicle search, you would be wise to contact a Virginia appeals lawyer to discuss whether you might be able to have the conviction reversed.