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CRIMINAL DEFENSE • DISCIPLINARY INVESTIGATIONS & HEARINGS

If I am stopped by the police, do I have to let them search my vehicle?

Under the Fourth Amendment, New York police officers are allowed to search your car if they possess a warrant and have probable cause. Examples of probable cause include believing that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime or contraband.

However, there are several different circumstances in which police may search your vehicle without a warrant. For instance, if you are lawfully arrested the officer is allowed to conduct a search of your immediate surroundings. Objects that are in plain view in your vehicle are subject to search if the officer has reasonable suspicion of illegal activity taking place.

If you are stopped by the police in New York, be sure to keep your verbal interaction to a minimum so that you do not inadvertently say something inaccurate or incriminating. An important way to protect yourself is to clearly state that you do not consent to a search.

If you are arrested, the officer may try to use items found in the search as evidence against you. If the police conducted an unlawful search of your vehicle, your defense attorney will take steps to get the evidence excluded.

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