after being caught with pot i was questioned by two detectives and i think they did it illegaly

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after being caught with pot i was questioned by two detectives and i think they did it illegaly

after being caught with three grams of pot and a used glass pipe, two detectives ordered me in there car where they questioned me without arresting me or telling me any kind of legal formality. after which they searched my car and let me go with a number to call on Monday, are they allowed to do this.

Asked on July 3, 2009 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I'm not exactly sure what you were or weren't cited for.  Anyway, you have 2 issues here: was your questioning legal, and was the subsequent search legal?

Police can question you without informing you of your rights as long as you are not "in custody"; typically this means arrest but not always.  So, what about being questioned in a police car?  If you were free to go and they did not change locations (ie drive you to the police station) then you would not likely be deemed to be in custody.  Therefore, absent other facts or circumstances, questioning you without reading you your rights would appear to have been legal.  Consequently anything that you said can later be used against you.

However, the above situation, makes the search more problematic.  Courts have held that warrantless searches of vehicles are permitted by police only if the passenger compartment is within reach of the suspect or there is probable cause to believe evidence will be found of the crime that led to the arrest.   Here, however, you were in the police car - not within reach of your passenger compartment; and you were not under arrest.  So the search, in my opinion, is suspect.     

Quite frankly, it's not at all clear what is going on here.  Your best course of action is to sit down with a criminal attorney, recite all of the details of your situation to them, and see just what they advise.


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