Police, based on probable cause, can search your vehicle. Warrantless searches in Pennsylvania are permitted

Alfonso Gambone
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A Philadelphia criminal defense attorney representing accused persons throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Another big question that we get is it is illegal for police to search your vehicle following a routine traffic stop.  Police, based on probable cause, can search your vehicle.  Now that wasn't always the case in Pennsylvania.  Traditionally in Pennsylvania police could't perform a warrantless search of a vehicle but that has somewhat changed in recent years.  The law now is, following a traffic stop, if a police officer has probable cause that a vehicle contains contraband, like illegal drugs or a gun, they can search a car without a warrant.  Now that was the standard federally but not in Pennsylvania, traditionally the Pennsylvania constitution provided a person with a higher level of constitutional protection.

If you read my book Commonwealth v You and What Everyone Should Know About Drugs, Guns and Lawyers, all those concepts are explained.  Basically there is no prohibition against a state providing a higher level of constitutional protection to its citizens, there is only a prohibition against providing less protection than the US Constitution provides.

Police can search your car.  Now giving them the right to search your car and them searching your car are two different things.  I advise all my clients, never to give police consent to search your vehicle.   It seriously hinders your defense attorney's ability to fight your case.

For more information please call our office and I look forward to seeing you soon.