You have certain rights and protections when authorities in Pennsylvania want to search your car or your home, and you do not always have to allow such a search to take place unless certain circumstances are in place. Knowing when you have to allow a law enforcement officer to conduct a search of your home or car – and when you do not – may go a long way in terms of saving you time and helping you avoid unnecessary trouble.
According to Flex Your Rights, your rights with regard to responding to an officer’s search request vary somewhat based on whether the officer wants to look through your car or your home.
When authorities want to search your car
Unless you permit them or they have a warrant, the only way authorities may legally search your vehicle during a traffic stop is if they have something they consider to be “probable cause.” Probable cause means they have some form of evidence or proof that there were illegal activities taking place, such as viewing illegal contraband in the car or smelling illegal substances emanating from it.
When authorities want to search your home
In most circumstances, authorities need to have your permission or a warrant if they want to search for your home. However, there are certain exceptions. For example, if law enforcement officials arrive on your doorstep and you open the door and have something illegal in plain sight, this may give them due cause to move forward with a search. Authorities may also be able to look through your home when certain emergency conditions exist.
Outside of these circumstances, you typically have the right to refuse a law enforcement officer’s request to look through your home or car.