When An Officer Touches You, Is It A Search?
Court?s have determined that a physical intrusion to obtain information may be a Constitutional Violation, which was shown when the United States Supreme Court determined that a violation occurred when the government attached a GPS device to an individual?s vehicle. See United States v Jones. The intrusion went beyond the expectation of privacy in a reasonable person analysis.
The basic idea of whether a police officer is able to search is based upon the circumstances of any given case. Courts have reasoned that because vehicles are able to move quickly, and thus warrants are not ideal when crimes or potential crimes involve vehicles. Police officers are able to conduct a search only after establishing probable cause of criminal conduct. For example, if the officer smells burnt marijuana he or she can then search the passenger compartment of the vehicle. However, the officer is limited to that area and cannot then search the trunk if he or she comes up missing, meaning no narcotics or other contraband is found.
The same above conduct would also apply to individual persons within the vehicle. If there is probable cause to search the vehicle then search the individuals found inside the car will not violate constitutional muster.
Another opportunity for a warrantless search to occur is when the officer arrests an individual. Once an arrest occurs or could have occurred a search of the vehicle or person is not improper nor will it violate the constitutional rights of the individual. As just mentioned, if the officer is allowed to arrest but does not arrest an individual, per his or her discretion, the officer can search a vehicle or person.
Moreover, the individual arrested will does not necessarily have to be located inside the vehicle for the search to occur. He or she must have been a recent occupant of the vehicle in order for a warrantless vehicle search to occur. The recent occupant must be within reaching distance of the vehicle for this rule to apply.
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