Is a prior conviction for possession of marijuana reason enough for the police to search your vehicle?

While in my car at a park eating my lunch, I was approached by the police. They stated they had been called about suspisious activity and requested my ID. After they ran my license, they searched my car stating they were searching because I have a 3 year old prior conviction for marijana possession that should have been exponged from my record. Can they search your car based on a prior conviction? If not, can I fight the new possession charge that I received due to the search?

Asked on June 13, 2009 under Criminal Law, Arkansas


Robert Pellinen / Law Offices of Robert Pellinen

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The fact that you had prior convictions does not allow the police to search your car without your consent.  I'm not even sure you even have to identify yourself since you haven't done anything illegal or that would support a "detention" much less an "arrest."

You can "fight" the new possession charge because under the Fourth Amendment you have the constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.  If the search is no good, then the evidence discovered, i.e., the mj must be suppresed and you should be free to go.  Unfortunately, very often the police will search first and think of a reason afterwards to justify the intrusion.

You must file a separate "motion to suppress" under the Fourth Amendment that pertains to "reasonable" searches and seizures.

I hope this information is helpful to you.


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