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There are a number of things that can cause a police officer to pull you over. Maybe your tail light was out, you did not use your turn signal, or you ran a red light. A police officer will likely pull you over for such violations. In some situations, an officer may request to search your vehicle. While the aforementioned violations could constitute a legal traffic stop, is it legal if the officer requests to search your vehicle? Technically, there are certain circumstances in which a police officer can search your vehicle without a warrant.

Police Searches of Vehicles

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states U.S. citizens have the right to “be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This means police cannot search your property for no reason. There are only a handful of situations in which a police officer can legally search your car without a search warrant.

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anonymous tip, Arlington Heights criminal defense attorney, constitutional rights, execute a traffic stop, illegal search and seizure, Justice Anthony Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, unlawful search and seizureThe U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that police can stop a vehicle and do a search based on an anonymous tip called into 911.

The case, which went before the Court, was a California incident that occurred in 2008. A woman called 911 and reported of a pickup truck which had just run her off the road. She told the dispatch the location of the incident and provided a description of the truck, as well as its license plate number. The woman did not provide her name or any other identifying information.

Shortly after the call was received, police spotted the truck and followed it for five minutes. During that time, the driver’s handling of the vehicle was faultless. Police pulled over the truck anyway. As officers approached the vehicle, they smelled marijuana. A search of the vehicle revealed it contained 30 pounds of marijuana and the driver was arrested.

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Arlington Heights criminal defense attorney, computer hacking, Fourth Amendment, illegal search and seizure, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, install malware, install spyware software, Law Offices of Scott F. Anderson, probable cause, Rule 41, U.S. Department of Justice, unreasonable searches and seizuresThe U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has submitted proposed changes to the law which would make it easier for law enforcement to obtain warrants in order to hack into a criminal suspect’s computer. The proposed changes were presented to the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules. The federal search warrant rules are known as "Rule 41."

According to the DOJ, the biggest hindrances they run into when trying to execute a warrant for a suspect’s computer is when the location of the computer is unknown or the suspect has multiple computers. Members of the committee, while debating the DOJ’s proposal, pointed out that the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, requires warrants to "particularly" describe the item to be searched. The Fourth Amendment reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Allowing warrants for a computer that law enforcement could not provide a location or IP address for could violate that part of the amendment. The DOJ’s response to that concern was that would be an issue that would need to be decided by the courts. If approved, law enforcement would be able to obtain a warrant from a district court where activities related to a crime had occurred, but not where the suspect’s computer or computers were located. The warrant would be executed remotely. One way law enforcement could execute the warrant is via sending an email. This email would be embedded with a code that would install spyware software onto the recipient’s computer. Another example in which warrants could be remotely executed is by installing malware directly on a website, such as a child porn site, that would collect the identities of visitors to that website. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime based on an illegal search and seizure, contact an experienced Arlington Heights criminal defense attorney to make sure that your rights are protected in the courtroom.

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