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What Can the Police Search When They Arrest You?

Police often take every opportunity to conduct searches of people they stop, detain or arrest. Laws describing when searches are legally allowed are extremely complicated and confusing, but there are some clear rules you should know concerning search incident to arrest (SIA).

A search incident to (happening along with) a lawful custodial arrest has been found by the Supreme Court of the United States to be reasonable because police need to disarm subjects that they have arrested and prevent the destruction of evidence. In order for police to perform a SIA, there must be an actual arrest which will be made formal later. That arrest must be made based on probable cause established by evidence found before the arrest. The initial arrest cannot be made because of evidence found in a SIA.

There are limits on what the police can search when they arrest someone. These limits cover both time and place. The search generally needs to be at the same time as an arrest. Once an arrestee is secured and can no longer reach for a weapon or evidence, the search must usually end. The place of the search is usually limited to the arrestee’s person or any areas which they might be able to reach for a weapon.

The law allows police to search your person and any containers found on you during an arrest. This includes your pockets, your wallet and cigarette cases.

Police can usually search the passenger compartment of a car after an arrest. This includes the glove box. The trunk cannot usually be searched without a warrant. Police can conduct a search for any evidence they have reason to believe is in the car and is related to the offense for which someone was arrested. If a car has been lawfully impounded, police may conduct an inventory search to catalog the items in the car.

If you are arrested inside your home, police can only search the area you are in, unless they need to do a sweep for possible dangerous accomplices.

The Clermont, Inverness and Tavares, FL criminal defense attorneys at Largey Law are always available when you need us. If you have been arrested, call us any time at 352.508.1485 or contact us online.

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