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When can the police search a vehicle? 

On Behalf of | May 17, 2023 | Criminal Defense

The police should not search your car without a valid reason because it is your private property. The ability of the police to search vehicles is subject to several restrictions. An unlawful search could give you the right to challenge the search in court. 

You must be aware of your legal rights in order to defend yourself against unauthorized searches. Here’s what you should know:

Your Fourth Amendment rights 

The Fourth Amendment safeguards people by preventing the government from violating their privacy without a valid reason. Furthermore, before any search can be conducted, either a judge must issue and sign warrants or the police must get your consent to the search. 

But, there are exceptions to those rules. When there is probable cause that your car contains illegal items, contraband or evidence of a crime, Maryland police may be allowed to search it. This may occur if there’s circumstantial evidence in plain view that would lead to a warranted search.

What’s most important to remember?

If the police ask to search your car, which they often do, you have the right to decline — and that may be enough to deter them if they can’t justify a warrant or meet another exception. Refusing to assist them with their case (which you should do) may shield you from incurring potential criminal charges. It may also open the door to a legal challenge over any evidence of a crime that they find if they proceed with the search over your objections.

It’s important to understand your rights if the police pull you over. If this happens, you may need to reach out for legal help and follow up with current laws.