Is it legal for the police to search my car after I have been removed and placed under arrest?
Generally speaking the police need a warrant to search a vehicle. There are some exceptions to this general requirement. Sometimes the police will say that "exigent circumstances" existed and therefore they did not need a warrant. Exigent circumstances would be situations that demanded unusual or immediate action justifying a warrantless search of a car. Police have claimed this justification even after a defendant has been removed and placed under arrest. The Courts in Pennsylvania have ruled that after a defendant is removed from a car and placed under arrest there can be no exigent circumstance present and to search a vehicle a warrant must be obtained. Commonwealth vs. Casanova. If drugs or other contraband was seized during such a search a judge should grant a motion to suppress the evidence.
Labels: drug offenses, exigent circumstances, motion to suppress, search warrant