1. Welcome to TalkBass 2014! If you're new here, we just went through a major site upgrade. Please post all concerns and bugs to the Forum Usage Issues forum. We will be monitoring that forum. Thank you for all of your feedback.

    The TalkBass iphone/android app is NOT WORKING currently. We're working on it. Tapatalk IS working, so if you need to use an app, use Tapatalk. Try using your browser though - TalkBass is now 100% responsive to your phone/tablet screen size ;)

    Please read the TalkBass 2014 FAQ for lots of great info on the new software.

Under what circumstances can an officer search a private vehicle?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Relic, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. Relic

    Relic Cow are you? Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Under what circumstances can an officer search one's vehicle?

    This is admittedly something that I really don't know too much about but I'll toss this scenario out there and I'm hoping someone with a better grasp of legalities involved can comment on it:

    9:30 PM. Two college age kids sitting in a parked car (parked on the side of the road in front of a home), awaiting a third who is in his house getting ready to go out.
    Cop car pulls up behind, officer gets out and asks for ID and what they are doing there, then remarks that he would like to search their vehicle.
    Driver gives consent, cop does a very cursory search, finds nothing, bids them a "good evening" then goes on his way.

    Is there anything wrong with this picture or is this SOP? serious question.
  2. marko138

    marko138

    Joined:
    May 24, 2013
    Likes Received:
    4
    If the driver gives consent than the officer did nothing wrong.

    That being said, my car isn't being searched without the officer obtaining a warrant.
  3. i_got_a_mohawk

    i_got_a_mohawk

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    Likes Received:
    7
    I don't think there is anything legally wrong, if they consent.

    Without a warrant or some form of probable cause, I don't think they have to consent though.
  4. Mark Reccord

    Mark Reccord

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2000
    Likes Received:
    1
    If consent is given, then the officer is operating within his/her parameters. Legally, they can't search your car without your consent unless they have a warrant or probable cause. Given the scenario you described, there doesn't seem to be any sort of probable cause.

    I don't think I've ever had anything significant to hide in my car but I would refuse a no-grounds search on principle and have done so in the past.
  5. 1958Bassman

    1958Bassman

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Or, they need probable cause. How they justify this depends on the situation. If the cop pulls up and sees someone immediately bend over (making them think the person is hiding something), a big ol' Cheech N Chong cloud of smoke, etc and the smell of illegals, they have a case.
  6. agent77

    agent77 Tin Foil Hat Wearer Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Likes Received:
    2
    +1

    Do not give consent. If the officer whines and cries like a little girl don't give in. Stand your ground. If the officer keeps complaining mention 'probable cause,' most cops will get the clue and leave you alone.
  7. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2006
    Likes Received:
    6
    +1.

    Keep your windows rolled partially up and your doors locked. If necessary, step out of your vehicle and lock your door behind you to reduce your ability for them to "see" or "smell" "probable cause" regardless of whether it's there or not.
  8. Relic

    Relic Cow are you? Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Agreed.

    What kind of bugs me about this, is that while useful in many situations from a cop's perspective, I'm thinking that this can also be used as a form of harassment.
    That's another reason why I would always demand a warrant...
  9. groooooove

    groooooove

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    Likes Received:
    1
    have any actual cops replied in this thread?

    i've asked my brother (NYPD) this question but never remember the exact answer.
  10. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2000
    Likes Received:
    1
    Disclosures:
    Developer: iGigBook Sheet Music Manager
    If they have a right to search your vehicle i.e. probable cause or warrant, you will not be asked they will just search your vehicle. Just say no.
  11. spade2you

    spade2you

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think this thread is going to prove my opinions that musicians have little love for law enforcement. :bag:
  12. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    If a couple of guys were parked on my street and sitting in the car I'd actually hope the cops would check it out. I understand people don't like being hassled by "the man" but I'd rather not have my home broken into. Even if they get turned down and leave it's attention would be thieves don't really want.
  13. Chainsaw Willie

    Chainsaw Willie

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2011
    Likes Received:
    0
    I support law enforcement, but not abuse of power.
  14. two fingers

    two fingers Loud Mouth Know It All Blowhard Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here's the thing. It all depends on whether or not two people sitting outside a home at night in a parked car can be considered "suspicious activity", thus providing probable cause. There would have to be some context I think.

    Let's say there have been several robberies in the area around that same time of night. In that case, I think a judge WOULD see your sitting outside in a parked car as probable cause. He would not see the officer's actions as anything out of sort whatsoever. But if this is a generally low-crime area, and you guys are under a street light not hiding from anyone, and the officer tries to force you to allow a search, then there would be a problem I think. Like everything in law, there is no one answer that is absolutely correct no matter what.

    But as others have said, if you consent, there really is no discussion to be had. End of story.
  15. p0k

    p0k I play the bass and design things. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    I was once driving with a couple friends, and i went through a yellow light. As I was going through, noticed there was a cop at the intersection, so when i saw he pulled out behind me i made sure to be going exactly the speed limit...sure enough a couple minutes later he pulls me over. He comes to the window and says I was swerving (I wasn't), had too many stickers on my back window (I had like 3 at the bottom), and asks why the guy in the back seat was looking back occasionally. So I said I was trying to go the speed because I saw he was behind me and didn't think I was swerving, then he pulls the...your car smells like incense (it didn't as none of use smoke or have ever smoked pot or cigs), what are you guys doing out so late (it was 11pm, and we are all in our 20's), so I tell him we are driving home from our other friends house. Then he asks if we have any weapons or drugs in the car, and I say no...then he asks to search the car, and I didn't really know what to say. I was thinking I should say no because at this point I can tell he's fishing for something, but I know I have nothing in the car so I said yes. As we get out he starts asking about weapons again and actually asks if we have any guns, knives, or GRENADES in the car (yeah I have a grenade in the glove box buddy...). Anyway, he searches the car, obviously finds nothing, and lets us go with a "warning" saying the reason he pulled us over was poor lane control and obstructed view on the back window. When I got home I was pissed that I let him search my car and thought about going to the station to complain about him but ultimately figured it wasn't worth it because I didn't really have any harm done other than being harassed for no reason. So I'd say no in the future unless they tell me what the reasoning is...
  16. two fingers

    two fingers Loud Mouth Know It All Blowhard Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Likes Received:
    0
    +1 in my neighborhood. However, we have a pretty "active"neighborhood watch. I would think that before the cops could get there, several people would have already asked what they are doing there. They would have more "attention" than they could stand LONG before cops arrived. It is, however, a pretty nice neighborhood with only one way in and one way out. And we all know each other. So, a car full of strangers parked at night would stick out pretty bad around here. It would be fairly obvious that you either are stranded and need our help or are up to no good.
  17. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2011
    Likes Received:
    21
    'Fess up, Relic....has your boy been up to no good? ;)
  18. hbarcat

    hbarcat Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Police officers often ask if you would mind if they search your vehicle simply because they want to see your reaction. If you are hiding something illegal, many drivers will get very nervous, thus betraying the contraband.

    Remember that if you do consent to allow a search, then you have waived your Constitutional rights under the 4th Amendment.

    The key to the entire issue is "probable cause". If an officer does have "reasonable" cause to believe that the car contains contraband or will provide evidence of illegal activity then he does not need your consent to search the vehicle. The circumstances where "probable cause" exists are complex and much of it is still under dispute in the courts. The officer may or may not need a warrant but you can bet he will search your vehicle every time if he does have probable cause.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probable_cause

    If you believe the officer does NOT have probable cause then you are within your right to politely and respectfully refuse consent. He may then ask you why you refuse and may even suggest that you have no reason to refuse if you have nothing to hide.* You should specifically ask him if he has "probable cause" to believe there is anything illegal in the vehicle. If he says "no" then refuse consent and explain that you simply wish to exercise your 4th Amendment rights to be free from unreasonble searches.

    To reiterate: Be polite and respectful. But stand your ground.


    *Resist the urge to respond by suggesting that maybe the FBI should show up at his house for no reason and search his home for illegal items and go through his computers looking for kiddie porn.
    :D
  19. Relic

    Relic Cow are you? Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2006
    Likes Received:
    0
    He's been fine actually, 2nd year studying physics in university :)

    dad, however...

    But nah, I wish I could go into more detail but there have been a few questionable things taking place lately in the town he's in with his mom... I personally think that that town has one or two out of control officers and I'm trying to think about what - if anything - I can do about it. A few parents have already complained to the police captain there, but it persists.
  20. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Likes Received:
    9
    It may very state to state, but the standard is not probable cause. They need a "reasonable suspicion" to search, which is less strict than probable cause. It can be as simple as claiming to smell marijuana. If the officer has a dog, it can sniff the outside as long as it does not prolong the search, so calling one in is likely not allowed.

Share This Page