People call our Jacksonville Criminal Law Firm all the time with questions about police searches. People usually ask whether or not JSO is allowed to search their car, home, etc.
Warrantless searches are generally not allowed by the police, but there are a few exceptions. Police can search you, your car, or your home if it is “incident” to your arrest. If you are arrested in your car, they can search it only if you are unsecured (not in handcuffs) and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or when JSO has reason to believe evidence relevant to the crime might be found in your car. This search is allowed in the interest of officer safety and evidence preservation.
In a recent Florida criminal case, the 2nd District Court of Appeals found the police conducted a bad search when they found a gun in a locked glove box during a search of the suspect’s car. The suspect was arrested for fleeing and eluding and was immediately separated from his car, put in handcuffs, and was being watched by police officers when his car was searched. There was no longer a threat to officer safety and the police could not have reasonably believed any evidence of the fleeing would be found in the glove compartment.