Under what circumstances can the police search my car?
Obviously, the police can search your car if you give them consent to search your car. Any time you give consent, an officer has the ability to search your car. However, even if you do not give your consent, if an officer has probable cause to search your car, then they can. They can also search your car incident to a lawful arrest to prevent the destruction of evidence and also to protect the officer, to make sure that the person doesn’t have a weapon nearby that could harm the officer or others.
The other circumstance in which a police officer can search your car is under the Plain Smell Doctrine or the Plain Sight Doctrine. If an officer smells marijuana, for example, he has the right to search your car to see if the source of that smell is coming from inside your car, if he has reason to believe that it is. Plain Sight Doctrine is same thing. If he sees something inside the car that he knows is contraband, knows is illegal, he’s allowed to go in and get that because it is in his plain sight.
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