Thursday, October 13, 2011

Warrants to Search a Vehicle

Warrants to Search a Vehicle in Pittsburgh

Under what circumstances can a police officer execute the search of automobiles and other vehicles without a warrant?

Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, a police officer may execute a warrantless search of a vehicle only when the officer has both a reasonable belief of criminal activity and exigent circumstances.  Exigent circumstances arise when there is a need for immediate police action.  For example, if the officer reasonably believes that evidence is likely to be destroyed or physical harm is threatened against the officer or the public.  An officer is prohibited from conducting a search of a vehicle for investigative purposes, and full inventory searches may be performed only when the vehicle is impounded.

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