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Ever Been Stopped and Searched? 4th Amendment


aztex

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Howdy,

 

Curious about how the 4th Amendment pertains to RV's. I think with vehicles an officer can do a full search for no reason in particular or just suspicions. It's happened to me years ago.

 

Are our RV's regarded as homes or vehicles? I have a travel trailer....

 

Just curious....!

 

Thanks,

 

Az Tex

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In the court cases that addressed this issue, the answer depends on how the RV is being used. When the RV is on the hiway or public streets or public parking lots or even your driveway its considered a vehicle. Like any other vehicle, when the LEO has probable cause, they can search it without a warrant.  When the RV is parked in an RV Park, Trailer Park and is plugged into utilities, being used for living purposes,  and not easily driven away quickly, then its considered a home and requires a search warrant. The courts placed emphasis on how easily the vehicle could be driven away to dispose of any contraband or evidence, in choosing which category would be applied. They also allow the officers to temporarily detain the vehicle until a search warrant is obtained, if they can demonstrate probable cause. Probable Cause is a rather easy bar to reach, it doesn't require any proof,  just a reasonable belief based on available evidence.  But more than just a suspicion.

The 4th amendment only prohibits "unreasonable" searches and the courts definition of unreasonable doesn't always agree with yours or mine.

This is a personal opinion and not professional legal advice. Always consult with a licensed attorney for legal advice.

Edited by JRP

Jim

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12 hours ago, aztex said:

I think with vehicles an officer can do a full search for no reason in particular or just suspicions.

I have never had anyone search an automobile or an RV of mine for any reason except when crossing the border from the US into Canada. I have driven them in 48 of the 50 states. 

Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure

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JRP provided a very good short summary of how an RV can be searched.  Like he said, how the RV is actually being used at the time can determine if it could be searched without a warrant.

Example:  John and Mary Doe going down the road pulling their TT speeding.  Trooper starts to pull them over.  Trooper can see in John's big driver's side mirror that he is leaning over and "reaching" down into the pickup truck as he pulls onto the shoulder.  When the Trooper approaches the driver's door he has both John and Mary exit the truck.  Since John was reaching down inside the vehicle the Trooper established probable cause to search the "lunge" area around John driver's seat.  

Trooper searches and finds a bag with 1 ounce of cocaine under John's seat.  Obviously John goes to jail and Mary heads to the station for an interview.  Both the truck and TT gets towed and a search warrant is obtained for the TT.  

Joe & Cindy

Newmar 4369 Ventana

Pulling 24' enclosed (Mini Cooper, Harley, 2 Kayaks)

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Search away is my motto.  Stop me, ask to search, I hand the the door keys and say have at.  I would if it happened, has not yet while pulling my camper.  Has happened in my truck couple times, but I usually have guns laying on seat so don't blame them.  Got nothing to hide, just let them do their thing, makes everyone's life go much easier.  Got something to hide, hope they find it!!  LEOs can, and sometimes are, a pain in the arse but the less you argue, the quicker you'll get down the road.  You can't blame LEOs, with all the cop killins going on, I don't for one moment blame any of them for being cautious/jumpy.  They are just doing a job, show them support and help them get home to *their* family safely!

2002 Fifth Avenue RV (RIP) 2015 Ram 3500 Mega-cab DRW(38k miles), 6.7L Cummins Diesel, A668RFE, 3.73, 14,000 GVWR, 5,630 Payload, 27,300 GCWR, 18,460 Max Trailer Weight Rating(For Sale) , living in the frigid north, ND.

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58 minutes ago, NDBirdman said:

Got nothing to hide, just let them do their thing, makes everyone's life go much easier.  Got something to hide, hope they find it!!

Our founding fathers just rolled over in their graves.

SKP #79313 / Full-Timing / 2001 National RV Sea View / 2008 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
www.rvSeniorMoments.com
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Law enforcement can do a warrantless search any time they believe "exigent circumstances" exist. "Exigent circumstances" are when probable cause to search exists and officers reasonably believe that contraband or other evidence may be destroyed or removed before a search warrant could be obtained.

Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
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2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
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We have never been searched even going through border checkpoints in Texas and New Mexico. I did find this information and quoted it from FindLaw.

Quote

The circumstances under which a warrantless search, seizure, or arrest is deemed reasonable generally fall within seven categories.

1. Felony Arrest in a Public Place

No warrant is required for a felony arrest in a public place, even if the arresting officer had ample time to procure a warrant, so long as the officer possessed probable cause that the suspect committed the crime. Felony arrests in places not open to the public generally do require a warrant, unless the officer is in "hot pursuit" of a fleeing felon (see Warden v. Hayden). The Fourth Amendment also allows warrantless arrests for misdemeanors committed in an officer's presence.

2. Searches Directly Related to a Lawful Arrest

No warrant is required for searches incident to lawful arrest. If a police officer has made a lawful arrest, with or without a warrant, the Fourth Amendment permits the officer to conduct a search of the suspect's person, clothing, and all of the areas within the suspect's immediate reach. This kind of warrantless search is justified on grounds that it allows police officers to protect themselves from hidden weapons that might suddenly be wielded against them.

Accordingly, officers are only permitted to seize items from the area in the immediate control of the arrestee.

3. Traffic Stops for Reasonable Suspicion

Automobiles may be stopped if an officer possesses a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the motorist has violated a traffic law. Once the vehicle has pulled to the side of the road, the Fourth Amendment permits the officer to search the vehicle's interior, including the glove compartment.

However, the trunk of a vehicle cannot be searched unless the officer has probable cause to believe that it contains contraband or the instrumentalities of criminal activity. But similar to a search incident to arrest, once a vehicle has been lawfully impounded, its contents may be inventoried without a warrant, including the contents of the trunk.

4. Suspects of Ongoing Criminal Activity

An officer who reasonably believes that criminal activity may be afoot in a public place is authorized to stop any person who is suspected of participating in that criminal activity and conduct a carefully limited search of the suspect's outer clothing for weapons that may be used against the officer (see Terry v. Ohio). The officer may also ask for identification, but the suspect is under no obligation to produce it.

However, a suspect's refusal to identify himself together with surrounding events may create probable cause to arrest (see People v. Loudermilk). This kind of warrantless search, called a Terry stop or a Terry frisk, is designed to protect officers from hidden weapons. Accordingly, items that do not feel like weapons, such as a baggie of soft, granular substance tucked inside a jacket pocket, cannot be seized during a Terry frisk, even if it turns out that the item is contraband.

5. Exigent Circumstances

Warrantless searches, seizures, and arrests may be justified by "exigent" circumstances. To determine whether exigent circumstances justified police conduct, a court must review the totality of the circumstances, including the gravity of the underlying offense and whether the suspect was fleeing or trying to escape.

However, the surrounding circumstances must be tantamount to an emergency. Shots fired, screams heard, or fire emanating from inside a building have all been considered sufficiently exigent to dispense with the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement.

6. Certain Roadside Checkpoints

The Supreme Court has upheld brief, warrantless seizures at fixed roadside checkpoints aimed at intercepting illegal aliens (see United States v. Martinez-Fuerte) and drunk drivers (see Michigan v. Sitz). Both checkpoint programs passed constitutional muster because they were tailored to remedying specific problems that law enforcement could not effectively address through more traditional means, namely problems relating to policing the nation's border and ensuring roadway safety.

When the primary purpose of a checkpoint is simply to detect ordinary criminal activity, however, the Supreme Court has declared it violative of the Fourth Amendment (see Indianapolis v. Edmond).

7. Reasonable Searches and Good Faith

Searches, seizures, and arrests made pursuant to a defective warrant may be justified if the officer was proceeding in "good faith." The Supreme Court has said that a search made pursuant to a warrant that is later declared invalid (i.e., it fails to meet the requirements for a valid warrant enumerated above) will still be considered reasonable under the Fourth Amendment so long as the warrant was issued by a magistrate and the defect was not the result of willful police deception (see United States v. Leon). This exception to the warrant requirement was created so as not to punish honest police officers who have done nothing wrong while acting in accordance with an ostensibly valid warrant.

 

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If there is probable cause for a stop an LEO may search your vehicle incident to the stop without a warrant. He/She can only search the open passenger area of the vehicle because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the passenger area. Consent or a warrant is needed to search the trunk. If you are arrested your vehicle can be impounded and searched incident to the impound including the trunk without a warrant  

As far as an RV. Consent or a warrant is needed to search a home. When moving down the road your RV is considered a vehicle and can be searched. When parked and being used to sleep in it is a home and consent or a warrant is required. 

I am a lawyer. I once had two men sleeping in their car waiting for daylight to go hunting. The idiots had their rifles loaded. An LEO approached, woke them up and arrested them for having a loaded rifle ina vehicle. I got the case dismissed because they were sleeping in the parked vehicle and at that moment it was a home and this was a search with out a warrant or consent. 

What a trailer being towed behind a vehicle would be considered while moving down the road I have no idea but if it is parked and you are, have or intend to sleep in it I would argue that it is your home. 

2015 Itasca Ellipse 42QD

2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock Edition

2021 Harley Street Glide Special 

Fulltimer

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The only time we have been searched was at a California agriculture station where they asked to come inside our RV and where they only looked in our fridge where found a piece of fruit I had forgotten was there. They took the fruit and sent us on our way.

Linda

Blog: http://sandcastle.sandsys.org/

Former Rigs: Liesure Travel van, Winnebago View 24H, Winnebago Journey 34Y, Sportsmobile Sprinter conversion van

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3 hours ago, Twotoes said:

What a trailer being towed behind a vehicle would be considered while moving down the road I have no idea but if it is parked and you are, have or intend to sleep in it I would argue that it is your home. 

Just looking for an opinion by one who probably has a much better perspective than I have. What would you consider to be the likelihood of the search issue coming up for the typical RV traveler? It would seem improbable to me.

Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure

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Kirk, if the RV is parked and being used to sleep in then I believe that consent to search or a warrant would be required to search it with an exception for exigent circumstances as would apply to any sticks and bricks. If the RV is rolling one could argue that it is a vehicle and as long as there is probable cause for the stop it can be searched. If you are arrested it can be searched subject to the arrest as well as subject to an impound. 

2015 Itasca Ellipse 42QD

2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock Edition

2021 Harley Street Glide Special 

Fulltimer

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12 hours ago, Kirk W said:

I have never had anyone search an automobile or an RV of mine for any reason except when crossing the border from the US into Canada. I have driven them in 48 of the 50 states. 

Ditto that.  Last time into Canada was *before* 911 - and no search there either.

BTW - I've been driving for 62 years - and I'm another "48 stater". 

"Paranoia" starts with a "P" as in.... Personally, if a LEO wants to search my RV or vehicle - he or she can have at it...😎

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7 hours ago, Zulu said:

Our founding fathers just rolled over in their graves.

IF our founding fathers had any idea that this country would have a serious drug problem, they would have worded it differently.  There are one hell of a lot of laws/ideas, etc that was perfect then, and are nuts now.  I truly believe the constitution needs to be updated to be par with our current times.  And yes, I gave 20 years of my life protecting the constitution of the USA and our antique laws.  This country has grown up a little, the laws need to do the same.  AND, I still say, let them search, hope they catch the criminals and those who do harm to our county and our children with their drugs, etc.  Peace out bro!

2002 Fifth Avenue RV (RIP) 2015 Ram 3500 Mega-cab DRW(38k miles), 6.7L Cummins Diesel, A668RFE, 3.73, 14,000 GVWR, 5,630 Payload, 27,300 GCWR, 18,460 Max Trailer Weight Rating(For Sale) , living in the frigid north, ND.

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17 minutes ago, NDBirdman said:

IF our founding fathers had any idea that this country would have a serious drug problem, they would have worded it differently.  There are one hell of a lot of laws/ideas, etc that was perfect then, and are nuts now.  I truly believe the constitution needs to be updated to be par with our current times.  And yes, I gave 20 years of my life protecting the constitution of the USA and our antique laws.  This country has grown up a little, the laws need to do the same.  AND, I still say, let them search, hope they catch the criminals and those who do harm to our county and our children with their drugs, etc.  Peace out bro!

Well said.  

2010 Newmar Dutch Aire 4304-Spartan Chassis-Cummins ISL 425hp-2013 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Towed-SKP# 120487-FMCA #402879-

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1 hour ago, NDBirdman said:

IF our founding fathers had any idea that this country would have a serious drug problem, they would have worded it differently.  There are one hell of a lot of laws/ideas, etc that was perfect then, and are nuts now.  I truly believe the constitution needs to be updated to be par with our current times.  And yes, I gave 20 years of my life protecting the constitution of the USA and our antique laws.  This country has grown up a little, the laws need to do the same.  AND, I still say, let them search, hope they catch the criminals and those who do harm to our county and our children with their drugs, etc.  Peace out bro!

So you see our Constitution as a living breathing document?

2005 Winnebago Voyage 38J

 

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Gentlemen, I would not give consent regardless of state in or of travel. I would ask for their probable cause and a warrant. It is legal to video them while they do their job so if they step over the line and try to BS, they are on tape. Other than that I will cooperate and be polite and not fight unnecessarily in the street. If I'm wronged that can be settled in court.

There are lots of videos on YouTube showing stops on video. Here's one of a lawyer who moonlights as an Uber driver. His passenger is arrested and the cops want to search and try to BS him that it is illegal to film them in the performance of duties in public. He is not rude but was hassled and detained an inordinate amount of time. I don't want to argue his case, just an excellent example.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=uber+driver+and+lawyer+stopped+on+video&docid=608043084310512956&mid=A6CBC3B03AB04C142616A6CBC3B03AB04C142616&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

 

RV/Derek
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When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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16 hours ago, Twotoes said:

If there is probable cause for a stop an LEO may search your vehicle incident to the stop without a warrant. He/She can only search the open passenger area of the vehicle because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the passenger area. Consent or a warrant is needed to search the trunk. If you are arrested your vehicle can be impounded and searched incident to the impound including the trunk without a warrant  

As far as an RV. Consent or a warrant is needed to search a home. When moving down the road your RV is considered a vehicle and can be searched. When parked and being used to sleep in it is a home and consent or a warrant is required. 

I am a lawyer. I once had two men sleeping in their car waiting for daylight to go hunting. The idiots had their rifles loaded. An LEO approached, woke them up and arrested them for having a loaded rifle ina vehicle. I got the case dismissed because they were sleeping in the parked vehicle and at that moment it was a home and this was a search with out a warrant or consent. 

What a trailer being towed behind a vehicle would be considered while moving down the road I have no idea but if it is parked and you are, have or intend to sleep in it I would argue that it is your home. 

There is so many false statements in your post I hardly know where to start.  If you were a licensed attorney you must have never practiced criminal law my friend.  

If I stop a vehicle for speeding there is no way I can search all of the "open passenger area" of that vehicle without a warrant.  I may be able to search the "lunge" area or reachable area around the driver if I can articulate why I suspected some type of criminal activity afoot but that is it.  

I can tell you that during my 34 years I have arrested numerous individuals who were highly intoxicated and had pulled over in their vehicles to sleep it off.  I would wake them up, determine they were about 5 times over the legal limit and take them to jail.  I have never heard of, or read any case law where the courts have determined a vehicle/car was considered a "home" just because someone was sleeping in it.  Are you kidding me.

Joe & Cindy

Newmar 4369 Ventana

Pulling 24' enclosed (Mini Cooper, Harley, 2 Kayaks)

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10 hours ago, NDBirdman said:

IF our founding fathers had any idea that this country would have a serious drug problem, they would have worded it differently.  There are one hell of a lot of laws/ideas, etc that was perfect then, and are nuts now.  I truly believe the constitution needs to be updated to be par with our current times.  And yes, I gave 20 years of my life protecting the constitution of the USA and our antique laws.  This country has grown up a little, the laws need to do the same.  AND, I still say, let them search, hope they catch the criminals and those who do harm to our county and our children with their drugs, etc.  Peace out bro!

Very well said, and of course due to my work history/career I could not agree more.  However, our constitution will never change and much of our current criminal law and case law is extremely slow to change.  So as a police officer you can either complain about it or you can put in the extra effort and still get the bad guy.

If you have two people tell you a gang is selling large quantities of crack cocaine out of a house it would certainly be nice if our constitution allowed you to just suit up and kick their doors in.  However, someone has to swear to certain facts in a search warrant and that warrant has to be signed by a judge.  So now as an undercover the real work begins.  It may take you a week or it may take you 3 months but eventually, if you are good enough, you will get inside that house and buy crack cocaine from those idiots.  Soon after, the search warrant will be signed and about 5am the boys will be executing it and locking up the scumbags.

We can still "protect and serve", it just takes a lot more effort and sometimes additional time. 

Joe & Cindy

Newmar 4369 Ventana

Pulling 24' enclosed (Mini Cooper, Harley, 2 Kayaks)

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12 hours ago, pjstough said:

So you see our Constitution as a living breathing document?

It lives in the heart of every law abiding American citizen, so coming at that point, yes.  It also, albeit sadly, lives in the dark heart of criminals that would rob/kill/rape/maim you, your wife, your mom/dad, your children, etc and use this antique to sometimes get away with their crimes.

Let me ask you.  Should someone visiting our country on a student visa, gets caught kiddie porn red-handed, be able to use constitutional rights to get off scott-free??  His excuse was, he does not understand english well enough to understand what his rights meant when the police read them to him??  His lawyer tried like hell to get him a not guilty verdict on that, ie his (this needs to be addressed and fixed) constitutional rights (which was designed for AMERICAN CITIZENS, not some foreign rapist).  The lawyer did not even fight about the pedophile having kiddie porn depicting children being raped by adults....... 

The above statement is not aimed at you, but those that wish to remain stuck in the colonial days.  IT NEEDS UPDATED, PERIOD.

Oh, the pedophile above, the jury saw through his lawyer's bullshyte and he was found guilty, may he burn in hell.  I wish I would have been one of the jurors that convicted that baby rapist, but I was the first one thrown out of that jury, I'm not shy about saying what I think of a jack..s pedophile/rapist.

Linky to rapist

What they don't mention is he is French here on student visa.

This crap gets me fired up real bad, don't push the crap it does not need updated to current times/crimes, and yes, this statement applies to everyone that clings onto an antique.

 

Yes, I still feel the same way about stop/search.  It's not about *your rights* to hide your drugs, or whatever, but about safety for yourself, your spouse, your children, to the public as a whole, not just some criminal with something to hide.  Be proud to be an American and prove you have nothing to hide.  I ask those folks flaunting their rights and not letting an LEO take a look, just what the heck are you hiding??

Edited by NDBirdman

2002 Fifth Avenue RV (RIP) 2015 Ram 3500 Mega-cab DRW(38k miles), 6.7L Cummins Diesel, A668RFE, 3.73, 14,000 GVWR, 5,630 Payload, 27,300 GCWR, 18,460 Max Trailer Weight Rating(For Sale) , living in the frigid north, ND.

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11 minutes ago, Sehc said:

Would that equate to founding fathers had a big problem with being terrorists, as that is why the existing government was kicking in the doors.

Huh?

2002 Fifth Avenue RV (RIP) 2015 Ram 3500 Mega-cab DRW(38k miles), 6.7L Cummins Diesel, A668RFE, 3.73, 14,000 GVWR, 5,630 Payload, 27,300 GCWR, 18,460 Max Trailer Weight Rating(For Sale) , living in the frigid north, ND.

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3 hours ago, FL-JOE said:

If you have two people tell you a gang is selling large quantities of crack cocaine out of a house it would certainly be nice if our constitution allowed you to just suit up and kick their doors in.

Agree'd totally!  The written law should allow this as the rights of the greater good against suspected criminals.  I would say if LEOs have in hand proof a crime has/is occurring, no knock entry, search, and if nothing found, law enforcement pays for all damage to repair if no contraband is found.

Yea, I can hear the crying now.

2002 Fifth Avenue RV (RIP) 2015 Ram 3500 Mega-cab DRW(38k miles), 6.7L Cummins Diesel, A668RFE, 3.73, 14,000 GVWR, 5,630 Payload, 27,300 GCWR, 18,460 Max Trailer Weight Rating(For Sale) , living in the frigid north, ND.

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We just had a no-knock warrant served on a house in Houston, TX, that resulted in four LEO's shot and the 59 and 58 year old couple shot and killed. It turns out that a narcotics officer lied and said that he had confidential informants who bought black tar heroin from that house so a judge gave them a no-knock warrant. They busted down the door without notice so the couple shot four of them and the police shot and killed them. No black tar heroin was found. They found a small bag of weed. As a result of this the Houston Police Department has changed their no-knock policy and have to go back and review all of the cases that the lying office was involved with.

There are not many times when a no-knock warrant should be issued. I think that the lying officer should be charged with the couples murder!

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