PA Cops Can Search Your Car Without A Warrant

PA Cops Can Search Your Car Without A Warrant

This is a discussion on PA Cops Can Search Your Car Without A Warrant within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; If this law is not overturned , I think it`s time for me to move on. No one should have this much power.I guess it`s ...

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Thread: PA Cops Can Search Your Car Without A Warrant

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    Member Array Hank19119's Avatar
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    PA Cops Can Search Your Car Without A Warrant

    If this law is not overturned , I think it`s time for me to move on. No one should have this much power.I guess it`s " THE HELL WITH THE CONSTITUTION".
    Supreme Court: Pennsylvania cops no longer need a warrant to search citizens? vehicles - LancasterOnline: Local News
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    I don't think that's anything new. Reasonable suspicion and probable cause have always been grounds for a search. Sixto will probably be along to explain in detail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    I don't think that's anything new. Reasonable suspicion and probable cause have always been grounds for a search. Sixto will probably be along to explain in detail.
    Reading the article, it appears PA had not adopted the federal standard prior to this case.

    “The prerequisite for a warrantless search of a motor vehicle is probable cause to search,” McCaffery writes in the opinion. “We adopt the federal automobile exception... which allows police officers to search a motor vehicle when there is probable cause to do so...”
    So, while not new on the federal level, or in most other states, PA appears to have loosened its standards to the federal standards. OP, not sure moving will do you much good.

    Frankly, the "we adopt" language rather than "the intent of the legislature" language smacks of judicial activism, but the PA top court appears to have changed the prior standard by adopting the federal standard.
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    Distinguished Member Array David Armstrong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hank19119 View Post
    If this law is not overturned , I think it`s time for me to move on. No one should have this much power.I guess it`s " THE HELL WITH THE CONSTITUTION".
    Supreme Court: Pennsylvania cops no longer need a warrant to search citizens? vehicles - LancasterOnline: Local News
    Actually that IS the Constitution (Bill of Rights, actually). PA apparently has been more restrictive and is now coming into line with the feds and most other states.
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    BAD LAW!!!!!!!

    JUST ANOTHER example of the slippery slope of eliminating constitutionally protected rights.

    Can someone please explain how a citizen has no right to privacy in his vehical under federal law? I've never heard of this.

    My understanding is the police may only search your person and effects with a warrant based on probable cause. Now penn wants to allow evidence to be admited based on an officers opinion? I cant get a warrant in court based on my opinion.... This is HUGE! in my opinion. Anyone know where I cn get the wording on these federal rules?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Secret Spuk View Post
    BAD LAW!!!!!!!

    JUST ANOTHER example of the slippery slope of eliminating constitutionally protected rights.

    Can someone please explain how a citizen has no right to privacy in his vehical under federal law? I've never heard of this.

    My understanding is the police may only search your person and effects with a warrant based on probable cause. Now penn wants to allow evidence to be admited based on an officers opinion? I cant get a warrant in court based on my opinion.... This is HUGE! in my opinion. Anyone know where I cn get the wording on these federal rules?
    The US Supreme Court has long recognized the "Automobile Exception" to the search warrant rule. Seminal cases include Ross v. US and the Carroll case. In NY, the exception is often referenced in LE circles as "the Carroll Doctrine."


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    Quote Originally Posted by Secret Spuk View Post
    Now penn wants to allow evidence to be admited based on an officers opinion?
    They're not saying that the officer is entitled to search the car based on their opinion. The officer needs probable cause. They need to have concrete facts to back-up why there is something probably hidden in the car. They would have to articulate what they think is being hidden and what facts lead them to the conclusion.
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    THIS:

    “It’s an expanding encroachment of government power,” defense attorney Jeffrey Conrad said Wednesday morning, while reviewing the 62-page opinion. “It’s a protection we had two days ago, that we don’t have today. It’s disappointing from a citizens’ rights perspective.”
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    Distinguished Member Array David Armstrong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Secret Spuk View Post
    BAD LAW!!!!!!!

    JUST ANOTHER example of the slippery slope of eliminating constitutionally protected rights.

    Can someone please explain how a citizen has no right to privacy in vehicleical under federal law? I've never heard of this.

    My understanding is the police may only search your person and effects with a warrant based on probable cause. Now penn wants to allow evidence admittedd based on an officers opinion? I cant get a warrant in court based on my opinion.... This is HUGE! in my opinion. Anyone know where I cn get the wording on these federal rules?
    You have a right to privacy. However, like all rights, it is not an unrestricted right, it involves reasonable expectations. Basically SCOTUS and traditional legal doctrine has said that searches without a warrant can be made based on probable cause. The whole warrant thing is overblown as it basically just sets up a "who does what when" thing in court. With a warrant probable cause is presumed to exist and in court it is up to the defense to show there was no probable cause. Without a warrant one of the first things the prosecution has to do is show there was probable cause and explain the exigent circumstances that made it unreasonable for them to get a warrant. An automobile is mobile, and thus it is unreasonable to expect the auto would still be there if the officer went back to court, got a warrant, and then returned to the scene. Thus the Carroll Doctrine. The alternative, BTW, would be to impound the car and secure it until a warrant could be obtained. And probable cause is not merely the "officer's opinion", it is a legal standard. Sure, opinions are involved, but pretty much everything in the law is opinion-based. In this case there is actually a 4 level protection. The officer has to feel there is probable cause, the prosecuting attorney has to feel there was probable cause, the judge has to fele there was probable cause and the jury has to feel there was probable cause.

    Again, this act in PA does not eliminate any constitutionally protected rights, it simply brings PA law into line with the Constitution and most other states. BTW, the wording is the 4th Amendment.

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    As a teenager, I got stopped in a "safety check" road block. My dad smoked roll-your-own Bull Durham, since it was his truck, there were hand-rolled butts in the open ashtray. As soon as the officer came to my window, he drew his weapon and ordered me out of the car, where I was summarily cuffed and read my rights. The officer had seen the butts in the ashtray and ASSUMED that it was marijuana (after all, I was a long-haired teenager). Two hours later, a watch commander finally determined that it was just cigarette butts and I was sent on my way.

    As you can guess, I'm still a little skeptical when I here "Probable Cause" used to search a vehicle. After that incident, I always dumped dad's ashtray and closed it whenever I borrowed his truck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan81 View Post
    They're not saying that the officer is entitled to search the car based on their opinion. The officer needs probable cause. They need to have concrete facts to back-up why there is something probably hidden in the car. They would have to articulate what they think is being hidden and what facts lead them to the conclusion.
    I have ZERO faith in the probable cause requirement being any protection to a citizen standing on the shoulder of a Pa. highway watching his 4th Amendment rights being violated. After all, in the real world..."probable cause" is readily manufactured from whole cloth by law enforcement every day in this country.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaGunny View Post
    As a teenager, I got stopped in a "safety check" road block. My dad smoked roll-your-own Bull Durham, since it was his truck, there were hand-rolled butts in the open ashtray. As soon as the officer came to my window, he drew his weapon and ordered me out of the car, where I was summarily cuffed and read my rights. The officer had seen the butts in the ashtray and ASSUMED that it was marijuana (after all, I was a long-haired teenager). Two hours later, a watch commander finally determined that it was just cigarette butts and I was sent on my way.

    As you can guess, I'm still a little skeptical when I here "Probable Cause" used to search a vehicle. After that incident, I always dumped dad's ashtray and closed it whenever I borrowed his truck.
    Funny. I was the short haired innocent one and always smoked the hand rolled butts in my dad's ashtray because I knew it wasn't tobacco.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Secret Spuk View Post
    BAD LAW!!!!!!!

    JUST ANOTHER example of the slippery slope of eliminating constitutionally protected rights.

    Can someone please explain how a citizen has no right to privacy in his vehical under federal law? I've never heard of this.

    My understanding is the police may only search your person and effects with a warrant based on probable cause. Now penn wants to allow evidence to be admited based on an officers opinion? I cant get a warrant in court based on my opinion.... This is HUGE! in my opinion. Anyone know where I cn get the wording on these federal rules?
    Check out the specifics of the case as described in the story:

    "In the Gary case, probable cause for the vehicle stop was window tint the officers believed to be illegal. Officers smelled marijuana and asked about it; Shiem then told an officer there was “weed” in the vehicle. A search ensued."
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Armstrong View Post
    You have a right to privacy. However, like all rights, it is not an unrestricted right, it involves reasonable expectations. Basically SCOTUS and traditional legal doctrine has said that searches without a warrant can be made based on probable cause. The whole warrant thing is overblown as it basically just sets up a "who does what when" thing in court. With a warrant probable cause is presumed to exist and in court it is up to the defense to show there was no probable cause. Without a warrant one of the first things the prosecution has to do is show there was probable cause and explain the exigent circumstances that made it unreasonable for them to get a warrant. An automobile is mobile, and thus it is unreasonable to expect the auto would still be there if the officer went back to court, got a warrant, and then returned to the scene. Thus the Carroll Doctrine. The alternative, BTW, would be to impound the car and secure it until a warrant could be obtained. And probable cause is not merely the "officer's opinion", it is a legal standard. Sure, opinions are involved, but pretty much everything in the law is opinion-based. In this case there is actually a 4 level protection. The officer has to feel there is probable cause, the prosecuting attorney has to feel there was probable cause, the judge has to fele there was probable cause and the jury has to feel there was probable cause.

    Again, this act in PA does not eliminate any constitutionally protected rights, it simply brings PA law into line with the Constitution and most other states. BTW, the wording is the 4th Amendment.
    As with many things there are too many conflicting viewpoints and situations which lead to conflicting opinions. On one end of the spectrum we have
    a state declaring that the car is an extension of the home for SD purposes and for carry purposes; unlicensed car carry becomes legit. On the other end of the
    spectrum we have courts and states and Federal Judges too who would happily allow a cop to search any car for about any reason or no reason, as sometimes
    happens at sobriety checkpoints.

    What part of "secure in their persons and effects" is so hard for some of our judges to understand. Not to get too OT, but this whole business of
    warrantless searches of smart phones and lap tops burns my backside. If the PA decision stands (which it will), the officer can drill down from the flimsiest
    of circumstances to a search of a car and its contents, and then the lap top /smart phone itself. In short, the people are no longer secure in their
    "persons and effects."

    I have no answers for this mess we have bought ourselves, but it happens time and time again, some oddball situation comes up and soon everyone's goose
    gets a little cooking. We (us collectively) try to have pragmatic laws but circumstances always bring about pushing on the boundaries of the prohibited until
    they crumble. No better example than the ID requirement to get on a plane or that [sarcasm] ever subject to hijack Amtrak train, [/sarcasm] which contributes nothing to security, and was not needed as recently as 20 years ago.
    Last edited by Hopyard; May 22nd, 2014 at 06:14 PM.
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    Distinguished Member Array David Armstrong's Avatar
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    A search based on probable cause has been considered OK by the feds and most states for a long time. The 4th prevents UNREASONABLE searches and seizures, and pretty much by definition any search based on probable cause is not considered to be unreasonable. Apparently some judges in PA have decided their state should be held to the same standards of other states when it comes to search and seizure.

    Now, everyone want the real kick in the pants? LE can and does regularly look at, in, and into things without probable cause and it is OK. Why? Because not everything is a search. There are some nuances, but for general discussion a search can be considered an unreasonable intrusion into a person's reasonable expectation of privacy for the purpose of finding contraband or evidence of a crime. There are a lot of things folks call "searches" that are not searches at all because they don't fit into that description. So if it is not considered unreasonable by the courts (plain view, open fields, consent, abandoned property, and assorted exigent circumstances) it is not a search. If you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy it is not a search. If they are not looking for contraband or evidence of a crime it is not a search. As for "probable cause" being made up or manufactured from nothing, that is why we have the courts, and that is the other side of the coin. If the court (judge or jury) decides the officer did not have probable cause the evidence is excluded, no matter how good it is. Which gives the great argument on this issue. On one side we have the arguments that the officer shouldn't be allowed to search, on the other side we get those who argue that the BG shouldn't get to go free just because the officer didn't have probable cause for a search.
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