Automobile Searches

Can the police search your car?

The general rule in Pennsylvania for any search is that a search warrant is required. However, this requirement is subject to several exceptions. In addition to normal exceptions such as “plain view” (the incriminating evidence or contraband is within the “plain view” of the police while standing in an area they are authorized to be in), an exception to a search warrant for an automobile search is “exigent circumstances”, that is, to prevent destruction of evidence or danger to the police. Unless these circumstances exist, police may not search a car without a search warrant or the person’s consent.

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