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When can the cops search a car for marijuana?

The Fourth Amendment guarantees Americans have protections against unlawful searches and seizures. It applies to everything a person owns, including the home, body and car.

Therefore, if the cops pull you over as you drive, then they do not have a right to look through your vehicle without probable cause or a warrant. It takes time for police to acquire a warrant, so you should remember your rights in this event. 

Cops can search a car if given permission

An officer may ask to search your vehicle, and you are well within your rights to refuse. You can also simply remain silent. There have been cases where police have searched a vehicle regardless of permission even when there is otherwise no probable cause. In the event the police find something, they cannot use the illegally obtained substance against you in court. This is the exclusionary rule. 

Cops can search a car if there is probable cause

Additionally, police can search a person's property without a warrant if they have probable cause a crime has taken place or will occur soon. One example would be if an officer smelled marijuana when you rolled down your window. Officers are within their rights to search your vehicle even if they discover nothing. 

Another instance of probable cause is if an illegal substance is in plain view. This means an officer can see a bag of marijuana or a bong through the window, and the material is out in the open. Plain view does not apply if an officer needs to open the trunk of the vehicle in order to find anything. 

In some instances, police officers will bring a drug-sniffing dog to the scene to acquire more information. If a canine acts in a certain manner while sniffing around your car, that can hold up as probable cause in a court of law. 

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