When are police entitled to search a car without a warrant?

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2019 | violations of rights

If you ask most North Carolina motorists about the grounds on which they can be stopped by a police officer, they’ll likely tell you that it can only happen if they saw them engage in illegal activity or have reason to believe that they’re still engaging in it. Most residents may be less sure about a police officer’s right to search their vehicle without a warrant. It can be lawfully done in a variety of circumstances.

Police officers in most jurisdictions are required to get a search warrant to enter into and look for things within a person’s car or home. Supreme Court justices have previously ruled that there are certain instances in which police are entitled to search a car or home without first obtaining a warrant.

The Supreme Court justices have previously ruled that police officers can lawfully search a person’s vehicle without violating the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution if the car’s owner consents to it.

Police officers can also lawfully perform a search without first obtaining a warrant if they have reason to believe that there’s a weapon or something else in your vehicle that may put their life at risk.

They’re also entitled to perform a search without first securing a warrant if there’s probable cause that something of evidentiary value is in the vehicle. They can also search your car after you’ve been placed under arrest or your automobile has been impounded. They often do this to build evidence in your case.

Police officers are required to have a valid, articulated and reasonable reason for making a traffic stop. Relatively minor traffic-related offenses such as not using a turn signal or speeding generally aren’t a significant enough of a reason to justify a search of your vehicle.

If you’re concerned that the search of your car in Statesville was unlawful, then you should consult with an attorney who can let you know whether the search of your vehicle was lawful and what rights you have.