Police Officer Preparation & Law Enforcement Resource - Archive

The REAL POLICE FORUM is a leading community of police officers and law enforcement professionals. The forum includes police chat and restricted areas for police officers only. The ask-a-cop area allows you to ask questions to real police officers and only verified police are allowed to respond. REALPOLICE.com also features law enforcement jobs, news, training materials and expert articles.




Scruit
09-07-03, 12:49 AM
Picture this... You pull over a car and find that the driver is not the owner, but is actually a valet parker or mechanic on a test drive or something. Basically that person is driving the car temporarily, only for a couple of minutes for business purposes...

1) Can/would you ask for permission to search the car (absent PC)?

2) Understanding that it is not reasonable to expect the driver to know of any contraband in the car... Can you hold anythign you find against the driver? (valet dude)

3) Understanding that the owner was not present to give permission, (and probably wouldn't have given permission) Could you hold the contraband against the owner? Is there any 5th admendment hurdles given that you are searching his car without his permission.

4) If the answer to 3 is yes, then could you set up some kind of sting on a car that you have wanted to search for a long time but have no RS to stop or PC to search... Send him a pair of free tickets to a posh resaurant that only has valet parking, then pull over the valet as he is parking the car and ask permission to search... :D

5) Finally... If the driver refuses permission for you to search the vehicle, but the passenger says OK, then is the search allowed? Does the passenger have to be a co-owner of the vehicle, or just a regular passenger?


neinta
09-07-03, 01:44 AM
For number five. If the driver is the owner or the owner is in the car, they are the only one who can give permission to search. If the owner says no, the officer is SOL. If the owner says yes, then no matter how much the other parties protest, the cops can search the car.

And for number 3, I don't think it would fly because you can't prove that the "temporary driver" didn't put it there. Which would also account for number 4. I've had a mechanic of questionable nature plant drugs in my car. Luckily the cops found out about his actions with other people and contacted me before I got stopped and searched.

The owner of the car has final say. If the owner is not present, then the driver has the say. Anything found in the vehicle which is under the care and control of the "temporary" driver can be held against the driver.

Jcrazy
09-07-03, 02:04 PM
wouldn't you have to be able to articulate why you stopped the car to begin with in order for anything that was found to be admissible? What would your reason for stopping the valet in the parking lot be?


CXT_180
09-07-03, 09:06 PM
I answered the questions, but I have also a few questions of my own,
Why did I stop the car, and where did I stop it? (was it on the street or in the parking lot)
Why do I want to search it?
What are my observations of the driver/car in plain view?
Do I smell anything?
Is there anything else unusual about the car that makes me want to search for contraband?

1) Can/would you ask for permission to search the car (absent PC)? You can ask, but if the valet guy gave permission to search it, it probably wouldn't hold up in court, which would pretty much eliminate all the other questions. (There is some case law on this...can't remember specifics off the top of my head.) Unless there was some type of exigent circumstances I would make an effort to contact the owner about it.

2) Understanding that it is not reasonable to expect the driver to know of any contraband in the car... Can you hold anything you find against the driver? You could, but unless he admitted it was his, it probably wouldn't hold up in court.

3) Understanding that the owner was not present to give permission, (and probably wouldn't have given permission) Could you hold the contraband against the owner? Is there any 5th admendment hurdles given that you are searching his car without his permission. Nope if the search was bad, then anything found during the "bad" search would be thrown out. (Fruit of the poisionous tree)

4) If the answer to 3 is yes, then could you set up some kind of sting on a car that you have wanted to search for a long time but have no RS to stop or PC to search... Send him a pair of free tickets to a posh resaurant that only has valet parking, then pull over the valet as he is parking the car and ask permission to search...
No, that is entrapment. Not to mention that you would have no reason to stop the valet guy.

Lfpdlieu302
09-08-03, 12:56 PM
very good cxt, answered all of them correctly. even if the car does not belong to the driver, the current driver can give consent to search that car. as cxt mentioned however, it would be pretty hard to have it hold up in court. this only would apply to the scenario of the mechanic or valet. if it were a public street and your buddy had borrowed the car for the day, it would be easier to get the charges (if any) to stick.

Scruit
09-08-03, 04:46 PM
"That gun isn't mine - it was already in the car when I stole it!"

Is i teasy to get a posession charge to stick if you find contraband in a vehicle that is owned or regularly driven by a friend/relative of the driver? For example, I let my brother drive my truck for a couple of weeks... If he left something illegal in the car and I get stopped for speeding and give consent to search - is that gonna be my case? Or could I offer some kind of proof that I just got the car back from lending it out to a friend?

I suspect that if you find drugs in my car then I'd better give you enough evidence to pin it on another person, otherwise it falls back on me?

Being realistic, only mechanics and valets drive my daily driver car other than me. My wife can't drive stick and my brother only gets to drive my truck. However he borrows it for weeks at a time every now and then and I don't search the truck for contraband whenever he hands it back. I trust him to not have contraband in my truck, but you never know. On old boss of mine got a case put on him for cocaine posession in his car - he was a white collar manager earning 120k / year and the last person I'd expect to be carrying cocaine! We would go to lunch and he'd spend time in my car - if we'd been pulled over he could easily dump anythign he's carrying under my seat... I could give consent to a search because I have nothing to hide and suddenly the LEO pulls a baggie out. :-O

Scruit
09-08-03, 04:50 PM
Neinta,

If you're conformtable talking about if, could you give more details about the mechanic who planted drugs in your car? I'll understand if you don't want to, though.

I'm interested in his motive, was he targeting you or was it random? That's kinda scary.

darrell
09-08-03, 06:59 PM
I will add my 2 cents. If this is a friend that is driving the vehicle for some reason, his car is in the shop or what ever and is driving the vehicle then he can legally give search concent in Michigan. Hence he is in care, custody and control of the auto at the time, then there is no need for owner concent. The driver can also be charged with possesion of any contraband, firearms or anythign for that matter that is in the vehicle at the time of the stop. Our courts say that there is sufficent knowledge of the driver to be aware of anything that is in the vehicle once they take control of the keys.

Here is a different seniero. You stop a car with 2 occupants, b/f and g/f. The g/f is the R/O (registered owner) of the car but the b/f is driving. You upon completion of all LEIN, NCIC and other checks find out that the car has been sold to the g/f by another party, but hasn't been registered, also has a expired plate, and no insirance on the car. Who gets the tickets, even though she has the pink slip for the sale and it is now lawfully her car?

In Michigan ever though it is now her car, she is not in control of the auto and doesn't receive any citation. However the driver being the b/f at the time does get issued citations for drivign a vehicle with expided tags, no insurance and being in control of a unregistered vehicle. Don't sound right does it. I ran into this on a ride a long with MSP and it took us 20 minutes to find this out, since the trooper never had a incident of this before.

Basically it all boils down to care custody and control at the time of the stop.

Lfpdlieu302
09-08-03, 09:12 PM
in arkansas the bf would get the citation since he is in control of the vehicle.

neinta
09-08-03, 11:50 PM
Originally posted by Scruit
Neinta,

If you're conformtable talking about if, could you give more details about the mechanic who planted drugs in your car? I'll understand if you don't want to, though.

I'm interested in his motive, was he targeting you or was it random? That's kinda scary.


He was planting drugs in almost all of the cars he worked on. Especially the ones who lived out of the city. He would hide dope in the fenders or even as blatant as under the seat. In my car it was duct taped to the bottom of the seat. He would make a copy of the key and give his buddies the address for the "drop off." His buddies would "break" into the car, take the dope and anything else of value; stereo, cd's, etc... All of a sudden, the cops were getting calls of autos that were broken into and searching cars and finding dope. The cops got a list of recent clients of his and ran down the list calling everyone asking if they had been arrested for drugs that were hidden in their car or if their cars had been broken into. If they hadn't, they had the people (me included) come down and they searched the cars for free.

Scruit
09-09-03, 03:11 PM
Eugh... Lucky you got that sorted out - could have been ugly.

I saw a similar thing where a guy working at a high-end car audio store was selling names and addresses and copies of keys (and programmed a blank remote lock keyfob to the car's alarm) of people who got expensive car stereos installed. It became a local folk tale in the town that if you got your stereo from this particular dealer then you'd lose it 6mo later.

Some time later the police put it all together and filed charges against one of the installers. The shop never recovered form the reputation and closed down a year later.

Barenaked
09-09-03, 03:30 PM
One more thing to add to this...

What if it was a 16 or 17 or even 18 yo person driving the car but and it is his or her car but technically the owner is his or her parents. He is found to have drugs in the car but claims it's not his. Now from what I read so far in the first couple posts it would'nt hold up in court because he is not the owner of the car. I know this is stretching it a little but was curious. What happends then.

Scruit
09-09-03, 03:37 PM
I guess it doesn't matter who owns the car if he is the regular driver of it... He can consent and be held responsible for contraband.

Now what if I let my son drive my car as a one-off? Will contyraband be held against him or me?

Barenaked
09-09-03, 06:22 PM
Originally posted by Scruit
I guess it doesn't matter who owns the car if he is the regular driver of it... He can consent and be held responsible for contraband.

Now what if I let my son drive my car as a one-off? Will contyraband be held against him or me?


Where do you draw the line of regular and irregular though?

Scruit
09-09-03, 11:45 PM
It would be difficult to make the distinction by the side of the road... However for example due to a screwup at the Nissan dealership my car is actually now registered solely in my wife's name - They should have listed us both as co-owners but they accidentally omitted my name from the registration paperwork. I am the borrower for the loan and listed as the primary drive on the insurance, however the title and tags are in my wife's name.

I am the only person who drives the car - she has her own car. If an officer runs my plate during a traffic stop he'll get my wife's name etc.


LEOs - would you agree that if the driver is a friend or relative of the owner then the basic concept is that SOMEONE is going to get the contraband pinned on them, and if the owner doesn't 'fess up then it goes on the driver? Or are there times when you just have to confiscate the contraband but not be able to charge anyone with it? I understand that valets/mechanics are dfferent - In this case I'm talking about friend/relative.

CXT_180
09-10-03, 01:49 AM
Originally posted by Scruit

LEOs - would you agree that if the driver is a friend or relative of the owner then the basic concept is that SOMEONE is going to get the contraband pinned on them, and if the owner doesn't 'fess up then it goes on the driver? Or are there times when you just have to confiscate the contraband but not be able to charge anyone with it? I understand that valets/mechanics are dfferent - In this case I'm talking about friend/relative.

In my state, whoever is driving the car could be held responsible for anything found if they are in the car alone. If the contraband is in a common area that all passengers could have acess too, then all of them could be held responsible for it, unless the "owner" of the dope/whatever admits that everything belongs to him, then you have the OPTION of still arresting everyone for it, (if say by some chance, you don't buy the story)which could present a problem in court, unless you get a positive UA from all of them. Or, only arresting the one claiming it. Does that answer your question?

Scruit
09-10-03, 11:12 AM
CXT that does answer a lot of the question. I wasn't clear when I said "if the owner doesn't 'fess up" I meant the owner of the car.

For example, my brother borrows my car and I stay at home. He is stopped and the police find drugs in the car. I know they are my drugs and he knew nothing about it. Will the police contact me and try to determine if the drugs are mine - if I confess that the drugs are mine then I'll get charged, but if I deny then the driver (my brother) gets charged?

OR will they simply charge my brother with posession and force me to choose to go to his court hearing and take the stand and implcate myself to get him free?

Lfpdlieu302
09-10-03, 12:43 PM
they should charge your brother and you should go to court with him and speak with the prosecutor. hypothetically speaking that is.

Scruit
09-10-03, 01:02 PM
Reminds me of the ep of COPS where a girl was driving her boyfriend's car alone and was stopped - they found drugs in the car that the officers knew was the boyfriend's - he showed up on the scene a little later and denied the drugs were his. They told him they were gonna charge his g/f and that would mean she went to jail - the scumbag said; "ok" and walked off.

Whatever happened in court later is beside the point -