You were driving home from a friend’s when police stopped you for speeding. The police then suspected you might have narcotics in your car. They asked if they could look in your car. You said yes, but how far does that consent really go? Are there limits to how far police can search?
Under the Fourth Amendment, police may not search your car without a warrant unless they have probable cause or you are under arrest. There are certain other exceptions to the warrant requirement which include your consent. If you do consent to a search, however, the police have no more authority than what you gave them. For example, if you consent to a search of your glove compartment, the police may not then look in your trunk.
To determine how far police may search based on your consent, the court looks at what is objectively reasonable. In other words, the court considers what a typical reasonable person would have understood by the exchange between you and the officer.
In People v Pulido, the defendant was stopped for speeding. A narcotics dog alerted police to drugs in the car. Defendant consented to a search. Finding nothing, the officers moved the car to the police station for a more thorough exam. Based on the objectively reasonable standard, the court held it was unreasonable to believe that by consenting, the defendant had agreed to the relocation of his vehicle for an even more invasive search. Therefore, the officer’s decision to move the car exceeded the scope of defendant’s consent. As a result, the appellate court reversed the defendant’s conviction.
If you have been charged with a DUI or similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you or perhaps they searched beyond your consent. Even if the police acted properly and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.
If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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