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Can Police Search Your Vehicle Without a Warrant In Iowa? Sometimes.

Generally speaking, the police need a warrant or your consent to search you or your property--this flows from the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures found in both Iowa and Federal Constitutions. Does this apply to vehicles as well? Sometimes. Begging in 1983, the Supreme Court Started defining somthing commonly know as the vehicle exception. In Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032 (1983), the Court allowed police to search the passenger compartment of a vehicle if they had reasonable suspicion it contained evidence of a crime. In Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (2009), the court restricted searches incident to arrest to circumstance where: 1) it is reasonable to believe that the arrested individual might access the vehicle at the time of the search; or 2) it is reasonable to believe that arrested individual's vehicle contains evidence of the offense that led to the arrest; or 3) the officer has probable cause to believe that there may be evidence of a crime concealed within the vehicle. In some recent decisions, the Iowa Supreme Court had called into question whether the vehicle exception to the warrant requirement was even still good law in Iowa. This past summer, in a 4 to 3 decision in a case called State v. Storm, they clarified that it is. If police have probably cause to believe that your vehicle contains evidence of a crime, they may search it without a warrant in Iowa.

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