Can a police officer search a locked box in my cab or trunk without my consent?

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Can a police officer search a locked box in my cab or trunk without my consent?

What would he need in order for him to be able to search it?

Asked on December 9, 2012 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

David West / West & Corvelli

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, police are not allowed to unreasonably search any of your belongings.  The laws in most states, such as Georgia, allow police to search closed containers or bags only when there is probable cause to believe that they contain illegal items.  This probable cause can be satisfied in several way - by the admission of the person involved, by surveillance, by canine drug dog or by other similar methods.

In most cases, if a person is stopped by police and they request to search a vehicle or a locked container within, the police cannot do so without the consent of the owner/operator.  If they later develop probable cause through a drug dog or other method then they may be permitted to force the container open to search it.  They may impound the vehicle and conduct this search at a police location - though they run a greater risk of the search being suppressed by doing so if the person has not been arrested.

If the closed container is inside a home or appears to be the possession of a person unconnected with any criminal activity then it is harder for police to search such items lawfully.  In most cases, police will be required to get a search warrant to search a home, outbuilding or separate closed container belonging to other persons.

Hope this helps!

David West / David West & Associates

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, police are not allowed to unreasonably search any of your belongings.  The laws in most states, such as Georgia, allow police to search closed containers or bags only when there is probable cause to believe that they contain illegal items.  This probable cause can be satisfied in several way - by the admission of the person involved, by surveillance, by canine drug dog or by other similar methods.

In most cases, if a person is stopped by police and they request to search a vehicle or a locked container within, the police cannot do so without the consent of the owner/operator.  If they later develop probable cause through a drug dog or other method then they may be permitted to force the container open to search it.  They may impound the vehicle and conduct this search at a police location - though they run a greater risk of the search being suppressed by doing so if the person has not been arrested.

If the closed container is inside a home or appears to be the possession of a person unconnected with any criminal activity then it is harder for police to search such items lawfully.  In most cases, police will be required to get a search warrant to search a home, outbuilding or separate closed container belonging to other persons.

Hope this helps!


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