During the course of an arrest, police may conduct a search incident to arrest. According to the Supreme Court, the so called “search incident to arrest” is necessary to maintain officer safety. Criminal Lawyers Buffalo Ny should recognize the reasoning underpinning the search incident to arrest is distinct from the probable cause type of search, which is rooted in the State’s priority to punish criminal activity.
However, in the case of a traffic stop which leads to an arrest, a search incident to arrest does not necessarily justify a search of the entire vehicle. It depends on the circumstances. For instance, if the arrestee is still inside the car, unsecured, and has the opportunity to gain access to the interior of the vehicle, police likely have the authority to search closed containers, such as purses, backpacks, etc, in the vehicle.
Generally, police are granted greater leeway where they believe the accused is armed. poses a danger to either the officer or the public, or the accused is in the process of destroying evidence.
However, once the suspect exits the vehicle, police cannot search any containers in the car for the purpose of finding weapons or other evidence of a crime because the accused no longer poses a threat of reaching for weapons or destroying evidence. As a result, it may be wise for the accused to exit the vehicle as soon as the officer requests the accused to do so. This advice is not based on a desire to be fully cooperative and allow the officer to do whatever he wishes, but rather the evidence seized as a result could be deemed to be the product of an illegal search and seizure.