My friend and I shared an alcoholic drink. I was the passenger. The car was parked in a parking lot with keys not in the ignition. I am in California.
It seems we got in trouble simply because they might have seen us. Is that probable cause? Was this illegal search and seizure? We weren't doing anything suspicious and didn't get pulled over since the car was parked.
If you were publicly consuming an alcoholic beverage in a car, parked or not, there may be local ordinances that prohibit possession of open containers in public places.
This answer is a general discussion of legal principles by a California lawyer. It does not create an attorney-client relationship. Free initial consultation applies only to individuals with current or potential criminal charges in Butte County, California and adjoining counties.
If you’re in a public place and they saw you that’s probable cause. Period.
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They will need to articulate why they believe you were consuming alcohol to substantiate the search.
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