Pennsylvania Supreme Court Permits Warrantless Vehicle Searches

Thursday, 15 May 2014 10:53 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Police have been given the greenlight in Pennsylvania to search cars without a warrant, according to CBSPhilly.

The state’s top court recently ruled that cops no longer need probable cause to conduct a search after stopping a vehicle.

Previously, police officers had to obtain a warrant from a judge before a car search unless time was key in collecting evidence that could be destroyed. But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided to change that position in the case of Commonwealth v. Gary.

But the ruling has quickly come under fire from civil rights activists and advocates of privacy rights.

"There’ll be lesser protection of privacy in Pennsylvania," said Dave Rudovsky, a professor at Penn Law school and a civil rights attorney, according to CBS Philly. "Now if police officers have probable cause – a good faith belief that a crime has been committed – they can search your car without having to first obtain a warrant."

James Funt, an attorney with Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores, said, "The district attorneys’ offices will say this is about drugs and guns, and that is true, but it does not end there. Whatever is in the car can be searched. It’s a slippery slope."

Funt added, "Beware of what you put in you pocket or what you put in your car. You no longer have any safeguard from the government coming into your car – their right to intrude had exponentially increased."

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