The “Wait a Second!” blog recently reported on a decision by the Second Circuit, the Federal Appeals Court with Jurisdiction over New York, from January 8th, that clarifies and expands the rule on when the police can search a car.
As background, the court is addressing the question of when a police officer may search someone’s car without violating the 4th Amendment’s prohibition (extended to State and local governments by the 14th Amendment) against police searches without probable cause. The issue in the case was whether police had to meet the more stringent requirement of “probable cause” in order to stop the car or whether they merely had to show “reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation” in order to stop the car. If they had been justified in stopping the car, they would have been able to search it after observing a occupant of the car trying to hide something. So the question is whether they were allowed to stop the car. If not, the evidence the police acquired would have to be supressed.
The Second Circuit held that the police only needed “reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation” in order to stop the defendant’s car. So make sure you have a good defense attorney who knows the current law when it comes to police only needing “reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation” to stop your car.
Picture courtesy of Center-of-Mass.com