can the police search a padlocked container without consent or warrant

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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can the police search a padlocked container without consent or warrant

During a traffic stop can the
police search a locked container
without consent or warrant, can
they make me unlock it or can they
break the lock to search the

Asked on March 8, 2018 under Criminal Law, Tennessee


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The police can search a vehicle without consent or a warrant as an inventory search.  Also, the vehicle can be searched including the locked bag due to exigent circumstances without consent or a warrant since the locked bag may have contained contraband or something that could harm the police or the public.  Exigent circumstances would allow the police to break the lock if you hadn't provided the key.
This was also a search incident to an arrest, a type of search that does not require consent or a search warrant.

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 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.

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