Legal Question in Constitutional Law in Florida

I'm taking a business law class and this was a question on our exam. I went back to cite precedent, the Fourth Amendment, and exceptions that allow for search without a warrant. I'm trying to better understand this if I am in fact wrong...

Thank you for your time and assistance!

Diane, a police officer, stops Tim's car for a traffic offense. While talking to Tim, she shines a flashlight into the passenger compartment of Tim's car and sees evidence of drug paraphernalia. Which statement is correct?

A) Diane may search the passenger compartment of the car and any place else in the car, including the trunk, without Tim's consent.

B) Diane may search the passenger compartment of the car without Tim's consent; however, she may not search the trunk of the car without his consent or without a search warrant.

C) Diane may not search the passenger compartment of the car (nor any place else) without Tim's consent or a search warrant. However, she can require Tim to remain parked until the search warrant is brought to her.

D) Under the above circumstances, Diane can write Tim a traffic citation but cannot search the vehicle

Asked on 6/09/10, 3:38 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

A - police officer has the right to pull Tim over for the traffic offense. Police officer initially has a right to search area around Tim due to the traffic offense, but not trunk or closed containers. Evidence of drug paraphernalia in plain view provides police officer with probable cause, which now allows police officer to conduct full search of car. Because this is a car, a search warrant can be obtained but is not necessary.

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Answered on 6/18/10, 11:49 am

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