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When can Orlando police search my car?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Criminal Law

Hey Orlando, listen up! If you’ve ever been pulled over, you know that moment of anxiety when a cop asks, “Mind if I search your vehicle?” Before you just nod and agree, you need to understand when they can legally do this without tearing up your rights along with your upholstery.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution says the police must get a search warrant before looking through your car. But there are three exceptions you need to know about.

Do you consent to a search of your vehicle?

First off, you can say “no” when a cop asks to search your car. You might think it’s no big deal if you’ve got nothing to hide, but beware — simple consent has landed people in massive, unnecessary legal messes. The police have training to make the “question” sound like an order you must obey, but if it sounds anything like asking permission, you don’t have to consent.

If you don’t consent, say so respectfully. You don’t need to offend the officer and give them an excuse to investigate you further.

Probable cause

Now, if the officer reasonably believes your car’s got evidence of a crime, they don’t need your yes to search. That’s what they call “probable cause.” See a bong on the passenger seat? Smell booze or weed as they lean in during a traffic stop? Things as simple as these can get them searching your car faster than you can say, “What’s the problem, officer?” And no, they don’t need to tell you why they think something’s fishy.

You’ve been arrested

The police are allowed to search your vehicle if they have already arrested you or a passenger, and the search is related to the arrest somehow.

Wrapping up: know your rights and get a good lawyer

In the face of all this, the best way to protect yourself is not to challenge illegal police procedure while it’s happening. It’s to challenge it in court with a sharp defense attorney ready to defend them. If you end up arrested or your rights get trampled, a good lawyer is your best bet to sort out the mess. So, stay smart, stay respectful, and stay prepared.