A police officer can search your car, house, or person if they have a search warrant. A search warrant is a document issued by a judge that allows the police to search a specific location or person for specific items. In order to obtain a search warrant, the police must present evidence to a judge showing probable cause that the items they are seeking will be found at the location or on the person to be searched.
In addition to having a search warrant, there are several other circumstances under which the police can search your car, house, or person without a warrant. These include:
If you consent to the search
If the police have made a lawful arrest and are searching for weapons or evidence related to the crime for which you were arrested
If the police have probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a crime in plain view (e.g., drugs or illegal weapons visible in the car)
If the police have probable cause to believe that the search is necessary to prevent the destruction of evidence
If the police have probable cause to believe that there is an imminent danger to the public or to the police (e.g., a bomb in the trunk of the car)
It is important to note that the police must have probable cause for a search to be considered lawful. Probable cause means that there is a reasonable belief, based on facts and circumstances, that a crime has been or is being committed.
In summary, a police officer can search your car, house, or person if they have a search warrant, if you consent to the search, or if certain exceptions to the warrant requirement apply. A criminal law attorney can verify that the warrant used to search you or your property was legally sufficient.