In this section, our attorneys explain Nevada’s criminal laws and legal concepts, A to Z
Warrant » 4 times when Nevada police can search your trunk
The police may search all parts of a person’s car, including the trunk, if the police have “probable cause” to believe a crime has or is about to occur.
Merely citing a driver for a traffic violation does not automatically give police probable cause to search the trunk. There need to be other circumstances that give rise to a reasonable suspicion that a law is being broken, such as:
Once a police officer has probable cause, the officer can perform the search of the entire car including the trunk without getting a warrant first. The reason for this “warrant exception” is to prevent the driver from driving away during the time it takes for the officer to secure a warrant.
If a police officer asks a driver to search the trunk and the driver answers yes, then the search is legal. It makes no difference if the officer had no probable cause or was not able to get a warrant first.
Therefore, people are always advised to politely decline when police ask them to search their trunks. This way, the police may not be able to search the trunk unless the police have probable cause or can get a warrant.
If the police get a valid search warrant to search a car, then the police may legally search the trunk. It makes no difference if the driver does not give his/her consent or is not present at the time.
Typically, police do not get warrants to search cars. This is because they are allowed to conduct warrantless searches as long as they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.
But if the vehicle is parked and there is no driver present, courts prefer that police get a warrant first before searching the car. This is because parked cars are not as “fleeting” as cars on the road, and therefore police do not have a good excuse to with dispense with the warrant requirement.
When police impound a car…such as after a DUI arrest…police may inventory the contents of the vehicle in order to safeguard the defendant’s possessions. When doing an inventory, police do not need a warrant nor probable cause in order to search the trunk.
If the police happen to find suspicious evidence while doing an inventory…such as drugs…prosecutors may be able to use this evidence against the defendant to bring new criminal charges or to support existing ones. However, the judge could exclude this evidence if a criminal defense attorney can show that the police exploited this “inventory exception” as an excuse to search for incriminating evidence.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
A Ramey warrant is an arrest warrant issued by a judge or magistrate before the prosecutor has filed formal charges. To obtain a Ramey warrant, a police officer submits a declaration of probable cause to a magistrate. If the magistrate is satisfied that probable cause to arrest exists, he or she issues the warrant directing ...
The Fourth Amendment provides constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. This means that law enforcement needs probable cause to search you, your home, car, office, etc. With the exception of Terry Stops, the general rule is that a police search and seizure is only legal if it is: consented to; pursuant to ...
It may be possible to check for warrants in Las Vegas and Clark County online or by phone. To check for warrants by phone, it is recommended that the person hire an attorney to check. People with active warrants do not want to risk calling to see if they have a warrant and then having ...
People with outstanding bench warrants for their arrest may file a motion with the court to recall (“quash”) the warrant. The court will then hold a hearing where the defense and prosecution can argue their positions. Ultimately, the court has discretion whether to quash the warrant or let it stand. What is a bench warrant? ...