It would be great if there were a single, simple rule to tell you where and when you may lawfully search a vehicle for contraband or evidence. Unfortunately, there are multiple rules, and sometimes more than one of them may apply.
Attics, basements, closets, and crawlspaces all present great hazards to officers searching for concealed suspects.
Flaws in a warrant that are so obvious you should have recognized them can doom your search and seizure and eliminate the usual "good faith" protection.
If you can identify two or more ways to justify a detention, arrest, search, or entry, you increase the odds that at least one of them will be upheld in court.
Experience is the best teacher for learning to spot contraband drugs and alcohol and drug intoxication in the field. But the cop needs a demonstrable standard for evidence. It's here that presumptive field testing for alcohol and drugs is most useful.
Probable cause is much less than proof "beyond a reasonable doubt," which the prosecutor must meet in order to convict a defendant. But PC is something more than the "reasonable suspicion" required to justify a temporary investigative detention.
I focused on several likely hiding places: a container of Comet cleanser, filled with just cleanser; a PVC piece of pipe—only a bomb; a box of "SOS" pads....wait a minute!
With reasonable suspicion that someone on the premises might endanger officers during the arrest or as they departed, officers could conduct a "protective sweep" of the entire premises, looking only into areas where a person could be concealed.
Devallis Rutledge discusses why law enforcement officers should be aware of what public school officials can and can't do when conducting searches on campus. You can also read the original article "Public School Searches" from the October 2009 issue.
Public school officials are entitled to search the student if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting the student of violating the law or any school rule. But once law enforcement officers become involved, higher justification standards will apply.
After Apr. 19, officers and agencies could incur liability for vehicle searches incident to arrest that do not fall within the Gant guidelines.