Search of Containers in Motor Vehicles

Once a vehicle is legally stopped and the driver or occupant is lawfully arrested, police may routinely search containers within the passenger compartment.

The U.S. Supreme Court in New York vs. Belton, 453 U.S. 454 (1981), established a bright line rule permitting officers to search, without a warrant or probable cause, the passenger compartment contemporaneously with the arrest of the driver.  In California vs. Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565 (1991), the court does require probable cause to search a particular closed container.

Courts draw a “curious line” between the search of an automobile that turns up a container and the search of the container itself.  It’s a better law enforcement practice for law officers to obtain an independent search warrant. The alert defense attorney will file a motion to suppress and bring the matter before the attention of the court.

By | 2017-11-05T19:00:23+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Legal News|0 Comments

About the Author:

Dee Wampler

Dee Wampler has practiced law for 50 years has received many awards and honors. As Greene County’s youngest elected Prosecuting Attorney at the age of 29, Wampler’s reputation was quickly established as a leading trial attorney. Dee was an original organizer and first president Crimestoppers.

Wampler has published over 250 articles for Law Enforcement Journals, and authored six books: Missouri Criminal Law Handbook; The Trial of Christ; The Myth of Separation Between Church and State; Standing on the Front Line; Defending Yourself Against Cops in Missouri, and other Strange Places; and One Nation Under God. His knowledge of criminal law and trial tactics is widely recognized.

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