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Can a cop search a car that is parked and no keys are in the ignition. (in MA)

Reading, MA |

Granted there were 5 kids under the age of 17 in car and driver did not allow search. The kids were not making alot of noise just happened the cops were doing a turn around in the church driveway...yes they were parked there but you have to understand a house is next to the church and there is nothing dividing the house and the church (driveway/parking lot is dirt). The cops were also very harassing sincethey didnt like the response that they could not search the car since they had no reason and attacked the driver of the car. But my question is was it legal to search car in the first place

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Attorney answers 1


It depends. Generally speaking, police need probable cause that a crime has been or is being committed in order to lawfully search a motor vehicle without consent.

Is there a criminal case pending against anyone? Did the police offer any reason for the search?

If the search of the car produced contraband that resulted in criminal charges, then the defendant in that criminal case may have standing to contest the search of the car.

The police may also argue that given that the car was inhabited by a group of unaccompanied minors, they were performing a community caretaker function by searching the vehicle. However, the real question is whether or not it is a moot point that the police searched the car: if they did but no consequences resulted, then don't worry about it.

If one of the occupants or the owner was charged with a crime, either provide more details about the case or speak to a criminal defense attorney.