Search and seizure involving vehicle searches is very similar to that of homes. When it comes to vehicle searches it is well -settled that Article 1 section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution is not simply a mirror-image of the 4th Amendment. Moreover, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated repeatedly in interpreting Article 1 section 8, that provision is meant to embody a strong notion of privacy, carefully safeguarded in this Commonwealth for the past two centuries. arrest warrants Thus, it can fairly be stated that the Pennsylvania Constitution affords a greater degree of protection for a citizen's privacy interests than the United States Constitution. "The polestar of the expanded protection afforded by Article 1 Section 8, which distinguishes it from its federal counterpart, is its emphasis upon personal privacy interests. Thus, when it comes to vehicle searches, the government and its officers must prove that they complied with these requirements under the Pennsylvania constitution. In these situations the court will determine whether the Commonwealth has met its burden of proof that an officers entry was permissible in the first place under the totality of the circumstances and based upon the evidence presented at the hearing.
Inventory searches (when it comes to vehicle searches) are an exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement for searching a vehicle. There are three main purposes for conducting an inventory search. First, it is to protect the owner's property while it is in police custody, second it is to protect officers from potentially dangerous items or weapons in or on the property, and third it is to protect officers from claims against lost, stolen, or broken property. Evidence found in a lawfully conducted inventory search can also be used aga leaving an accident against the defendant in a future trial. Inventory searches do not require probable cause because inventory searches are non-criminal procedures. This means that a search warrant is not necessary.
A motor vehicle stop enacted without the proper level of suspicion violates the United States Constitution, and the Pennsylvania Constitution. Vehicle searches and stops in criminal cases may trigger violations of an accused's rights under the US constitution. Vehicle searches and stops generally require that the police possess probable cause. Generally, in order to effectuate a motor vehicle stop a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a violation of Title 75 is or has occurred. 75 Pa.C.S. § 6308(b). Suppression motions However, where an officer merely has reasonable suspicion that a violation of the motor vehicle code has occurred, and more cannot be gained by investigation during a seizure, then it cannot be a valid stop. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a case named Chase explained that before a police officer may stop a single vehicle to determine whether or not the vehicle is being operated in compliance with the Motor Vehicle Code, he must have probable cause based on specific facts which indicate to him either the vehicle or the driver are in violation of the vehicle code.