What constitute an illegal search of a car?

UPDATED: Sep 28, 2010

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Sep 28, 2010Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What constitute an illegal search of a car?

I was pulled over for a busted tail light. I had no insurance so the cop said that he was going to write me up for that. A K-9 unit pulled up and the cop asked everybody to get out of the vehicle. He found an open container that belonged to a person of legal drinking age and they admitted it was theirs. The cop brought the dog out and pointed to places for it to sniff and it scratched at the back door of my car. The 2 cops searched my car and found marijuana. They never asked or said anything about searching my car or bringing the dog out. They also never wrote me any citation or ticket for anything.

Asked on September 28, 2010 under Criminal Law, Iowa


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Illegal searches are governed under your Fourth Amendment right to be "secure" in their persons.  In the absence of consent to a search, an officer must have probable cause to believe that a crime has been, is being or will be committed.  Now, there are a few "rules" that go along with the "probable cause" issue.  Plain sight rule, where the officer observed something in the car that is fair game, and the "furtive gesture" rule which means that the officer observed actions within the car that give rise to a belief that there is something going on.  Smell can give rise to probable cause (alcohol or drug smell).  If the search is found to be illegal then the "fruits" of the search are no good either. Seek advice from an attorney in your area.  Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption