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Is there a search warrant needed for the second time the car is searched if the car is not impounded?

Berlin, MD |

My fiancee was driving my car. He was pulled over because the passenger didn't have his seat belt on. The passenger was arrested for a warrant for Child support and my fiancee was arrested for driving on suspended license. The police conducted a "probable cause" search of my car. Later during the day someone came back and researched my car. They never impounded the car and it wasn't seized in their possession. My car was turned upside down and my car key was bent, it almost didn't unlock my car door or start my car. Don't they need a warrant for the second search? If so, what can I do?

I will add they found nothing the first time, nor did they find anything the second search. I almost cried when I came to pick up my car from the parking spot they left it at. The site of my car ripped apart for no reason.

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Attorney answers 4


I'm leaning on the side of "yes" they should have had either a warrant or permission. A more experienced and knowledgeable attorney is likely to come along soon and provide better details.

The above is not intended to be legal advice, but may be used for general information. Please contact an attorney for specific help tailored to your needs.


Generally, all searches require a warrant. There are, however, several notable exceptions to that general rule. The "automobile" exception to the warrant requirement recognizes that they are inherently mobile, and that the owner may move it anywhere while the police go get a warrant. They also may conduct a search where an illicit item is in "plain sight" (e.g. visible through a transparent window). Further, if the car WAS impounded, the police may conduct an "inventory" of the car, pursuant to standard operating procedures.

The answer to your question is "maybe." All Fourth Amendment questions are fact-intensive, and Fourth Amendment jurisprudence is as rich as it is complicated. I highly recommend engaging a private attorney ASAP. If you cannot afford a private attorney, apply for representation through the Office of the Public Defender.


Whether or not the police needed a warrant for the second search of the car is somewhat immaterial if no criminal charges against you arose from anything found in the second search. Generally speaking, an illegal search is defense used to suppress illegally obtained evidence in a criminal case. If there were no criminal charges against you that arose from the presumably illegal search, then there is essentially nothing to challenge in terms of the admissibility of evidence. For further guidance on this matter, please consider consulting with a private attorney about the specific facts of the situation. Pleas e keep in mind that many attorneys offer free consultations and are not as expensive to hire as many folks believe.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this post is provided as a public service and is for general information purposes only. Nothing in this post should be treated as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This post and the information contained herein is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not create or constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you want advice or guidance that is specific to your situation or case, then you must privately consult with a private attorney or public defender.


If the prosecution seeks to use evidence against you, you might challenge whether agents seized it illegally. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you evaluate the prosecution's case, any defenses that you might have, and any plea offer that might be made, so that you can decide whether to go to trial. Consider seeking a confidential consultation.

Information in the reply is provided as a public service. It is neither a comprehensive statement of the law nor legal advice, and no one should rely on it as such. If you have a legal problem or question, you should consult with an attorney, who can investigate the particular circumstances of your situation. Responding to a post does not constitute legal representation. I am not your lawyer, until we make an agreement and I receive my fee. Beware that posts and replies are not confidential. Anyone can read them.