When Can Police Search Your Vehicle in Brooklyn, NY?

Traffic stops are stressful. Yet they can turn downright dangerous when the police tell you they want to search your vehicle.

Fortunately, the police don’t have the right to search whenever they want. It’s important to know your rights because police officers will sometimes lie about whether or not they have the right to search your vehicle. 

There are just three times that allow police officers to search your car. 

#1) When You Give Them Permission

Police officers will ask you to consent to a search.

Say no.

Don’t fall for the old “You’d let us search your car if you had nothing to hide” trick. Too much can go wrong. 

Let’s assume you don’t have any contraband of your own in the car. How could a search go wrong?

First, there are plenty of cases where people have assumed their cars were 100% free of contraband, only to find a friend or a family member left something under the seat that the driver didn’t know about.

Second, there are many more cases where police have used a “search” to plant drugs or other evidence on a driver. 

Police plant evidence for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, they even think they’re doing the right thing, breaking a small rule to get a really big criminal off the streets. Some do it to buff up their own personal arrest records. Whatever their motives, it’s important to avoid giving them the opportunity if you don’t have to. 

#2) When They Have a Warrant

Sometimes, police stop you because they already have a warrant to search your car.

You must comply if they have a warrant and can show it to you. Stay out of their way and let them conduct the search. If you’re not under arrest yet, take that moment to call a criminal attorney like me so that I can intervene in the case just as quickly as possible.

There’s always the chance they’ll find nothing and let you go; as I’ve already mentioned, sometimes cops do plant evidence. Be prepared for an arrest, and set your sights on getting your charges dropped, dismissed, acquitted, or reduced.

#3) Probable Cause 

Police may search a vehicle if they have probable cause to do so. 

Probable cause covers evidence in plain sight. It also covers instances where officers believe you will destroy the evidence if they don’t search immediately. They may also search your car’s “grabbable area” for weapons if they believe they are in danger. 

In Brooklyn, the “smell of marijuana” does not count as probable cause. They might have probable cause if you appeared to be stoned

What happens if none of these are true and they search my vehicle anyway?

Sometimes, police don’t pay a lot of attention to the law. They do what they think they can get away with. 

If police search your vehicle, simply let them. Then tell your lawyer they didn’t have a warrant and you didn’t consent to the search. Your lawyer can determine whether the police had probable cause or whether there are grounds to get any evidence pulled from your car thrown out of court. 

Are you in trouble? If you’re under arrest or have a loved one under arrest, call Ruskin Law to schedule a consultation today.

See also:

4 Mistakes to Avoid When You Get Arrested in Brooklyn 

Is Marijuana Legal in Brooklyn? 

Supreme Court Limits the Court’s Ability to Enforce Miranda Rights

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Neil S. Ruskin
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Brooklyn, NY 11201

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