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.
Pennsylvania police officers no longer need a warrant to search a citizen’s vehicle, according to a recent state Supreme Court opinion.
The high court’s opinion, released Tuesday, is being called a drastic change in citizens’ rights and police powers.
Previously, citizens could refuse an officer’s request to search a vehicle. In most cases, the officer would then need a warrant — signed by a judge — to conduct the search.
That’s no longer the case, according to the opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery.
The ruling, passed on a 4-2 vote, was made in regard to an appeal from a 2010 vehicle stop in Philadelphia.
Local police and legal professionals are calling the opinion “big news.”
“This is a significant change in long-standing Pennsylvania criminal law, and it is a good one,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said Wednesday afternoon.
Under prior law, an officer who smells marijuana inside a car, for example, could only search the car with the driver’s consent — or if illegal substances were in plain view.
(Federal officers, like FBI or ATF agents, can search, regardless.)
Now, based on the opinion, it only takes reasonable probable cause for an officer to go ahead with a search without a warrant.
The Constitution is just soooo yesterday. Let’s face it, we don’t need it anymore. The current government can only protect your interest if you give them free reign. Right?