What is probable cause to search a vehicle


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Probable Cause Searches

Officers will ask them, "Can I search your car? Once consent is granted, the officer can search every compartment and bag to look for evidence for contraband and crime.

In California, if someone is driving with a suspended license or outdated license, the car can be impounded. Once impounded, the officer can do an inventory search of the car, documenting any items within the vehicle, in order to account for any property at the beginning and end of the impound. In reality, it is used by officers to search for contraband. Often, people driving have marijuana , cocaine , or some other item in the car that they have forgotten about. Once the search is on, when the item is found, the ticket to driving without a license is now a felony charge against them.

Keep in mind that any point in time, a relatively innocent person can have their charge search. If an officer can state probable cause for his belief that there is an illegal item or contraband in your car or evidence of a crime in your car, he is authorized for a search without a warrant. Also, if an officer asks, "do you have marijuana in your car? If he asks you if there's anything illegal in the car, and you respond by saying there's a gun that's not registered to me, he now has probably cause to search your vehicle.

Motor vehicle exception - Wikipedia

The last exception is if you get stopped by an officer and get arrested in your car, it allows him to search the compartment for the car that you are in. These are critical to remember, but what is more important is that you should not break the law. However, in these instances, the search of a car can lead to felony charges and severe felony cases.

At West Coast Defense, we take pride in our ability to file motions to suppress evidence and challenge the search of motor vehicles. In the state of Texas, no statute specifically defines probable cause.

What Happens AFTER You Refuse a Police Search?

This is surprising to many defendants, considering that probable cause is a needed prerequisite for any legitimate arrest in and around Houston, Texas, and throughout the United States. In Texas, the officer must reasonably believe that a certain person committed or is in the act of committing a crime. Based on these facts, the officer would unreasonably determine that the driver was the same person who robbed the grocery store.


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Generally speaking, the law enforcement officer must have more than a hunch or suspicion that a person committed a crime. Probable cause is an abstract concept of law. The finite definition of probable cause is evasive. Courts must determine whether sufficient probable cause was available for an arrest on a case by case basis.

Although certain scenarios require the police to obtain a warrant to search your person or property, a law enforcement officer needs only probable cause to make a legal search of your motor vehicle.

What is Probable Cause

The primary exception to the probable cause rule in a vehicle search is consent. However, if the driver is intimidated or tricked into allowing the officer to make the search, he or she is legally allowed to do so:. A judge, not law enforcement officers, has the last word concerning the establishment of probable cause. A police officer might sincerely believe that the facts of the case established probable cause.

Can the Police Search My Car?

Probable cause might have existed at the time the defendant was arrested even if he or she did nothing wrong. Probable cause is considered one of the essential concepts of criminal law. Knowing whether the actions made by law enforcement are supported by probable cause in Texas depends on the specific facts of your case.

Unlawful Vehicle Searches & Seizures

Learn more about the relevance of probable cause by requesting an initial case evaluation. Contact the Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky in Houston at Enter code below:. Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky Address: Franklin St. All Rights Reserved.


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