Generally in the realm of Criminal Defense a main issue is the Warrantless search of a car by the police. In these car search cases, the defense is frequently challenging: 1) the initial stop of the vehicle; and/or 2) whether there was probable cause to conduct the search of the car. In these cases the defense argues; there was no probable cause to search the vehicle; and/or a warrant supported by probable cause was required under the circumstances. Indecent assault The law dealing with the government’s right to search a car in Pennsylvania has changed drastically. In Commonwealth v. Gary, the PA Supreme Court adopted the federal automobile exception to the warrant requirement, which allows police officers to search a motor vehicle when there is probable cause to do so and does not require any exigency beyond the inherent mobility of a motor vehicle. In that case, the Court found there was probable cause to search because: the officers smelled marijuana, and the defendant attempted to flee the scene. Two pounds of marijuana was found under the hood of the car. This case makes it easier for police to conduct a warrantless search of a motor vehicle.
One case that Criminal Defense attorneys rely on in a Warrantless search of a car is Commonwealth v. White, in which the PA Supreme Court ruled to suppress drug evidence resulting from a warrantless search of defendant’s vehicle when defendant was under arrest. The Court ruled that the search under the facts of that case was not an “inventory search” but rather a search conducted as part of a criminal investigation. GPS devices The Court went on to say that: Merely arresting someone does not give police carte blanche to search any property belonging to the arrestee. Certainly, a police officer may search the arrestee’s person and the area in which the person is detained in order to prevent the arrestee from obtaining weapons or destroying evidence, but otherwise, absent an exigency the arrestee’s privacy interests remain intact as against a warrantless search.