Consent to Search Car
Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances would cause a reasonable person to believe that evidence of a crime could be located in the area to be searched. With probable cause, law enforcement officers may search any area of the vehicle where the probable cause leads him/her to believe that evidence may be found. In addition to a probable cause search, any time a law enforcement officer sees evidence of a crime in his "plain view," he can immediately seize the evidence without a warrant.
Again, the Supreme Court has constrained law enforcement somewhat by requiring that they obtain a search warrant when one is placed under arrest and not able to obtain access to the vehicle.
The defense team at the Law Offices of Boren & Mims, are experienced in 4th Amendment litigation and have successfully had illegally obtained evidence suppressed in cases which otherwise would have resulted in convictions. This practice exposes the illegal activities of some police officers in their competitive efforts to reduce crime.
If you feel that you have nothing to hide and that challenging the law enforcement officer would be more bother than it's worth, you can give law enforcement officers consent to search your car. With consent, the officer does not need a warrant, does not need probable cause and can take custody of evidence obtained. As a legal concept, "consent" obliterates any possible 4th Amendment protection a person has if contraband is discovered. In other words, you did not require the officer to go through his required duty to develop probable cause to search your car when you gave him "consent" to search.
You do not have to give consent to a law enforcement officer to search your vehicle. While you do not have to consent, you should bear in mind that the expectation of privacy in a car is less than the expectation of privacy in your home. Based in part on the lessened expectation of privacy in a car, law enforcement officers are permitted to conduct a warrantless search of a car if the officer has probable cause. Recently, the Supreme Court has given motorists a bit more protection by requiring that the motorist not be detained any longer than necessary to complete the investigation for the initial reason for the stop. He must allow the driver to depart as soon as his investigation is concluded and that he has extinguished the reason for the stop and has found no violation of the law. Frequently, the officers will call for a K-9 Unit to come to the scene of a stop where a motorist has refused consent to search. If the dog, a trained dog, is brought to the scene and alerts then this is considered probable to cause to search the vehicle despite the refusal of the driver. However, the dog must be certified and well trained. These dogs are subject to being impeached for false alerts, and a full investigation of the dog and his training records must be undertaken by defense counsel in defending a case of a search incident to a dog alert after a refusal of consent to search.