A law enforcement officer carrying out a traffic stop


A law enforcement officer carrying out a traffic stop is allowed to search a car and confiscate evidence devoid of a warrant in certain conditions. In general, a cop can search a vehicle under one of the circumstances: The vehicle owner consents to the search, the law enforcer has probable cause to believe that incriminating evidence is present in the vehicle, the law enforcer is of a rational belief that a car search is needed for his/her safety (i.e., believes there is a concealed weapon), and the has been arrested
Also, the plain view doctrine allows cops to legally confiscate evidence of a crime devoid of a search warrant if the evidence is visible.
The Pennsylvania v. Mimms (1977) is an excellent example of a Supreme Court decision governing this kind of activity. In this case, the US Supreme Court held that a law enforcement officer that orders a person to come out of a car in the event of a traffic stop and searching to check for weapons did not contravene the 4th Amendment of the US (Carmen, 2006).
Officer Bird’s actions satisfied the requirements of the constitution. For instance, Quintana willingly allowed the officer to search him, and she had probable cause to believe that incriminating evidence is present in the vehicle (she had seen the Quintana hiding something under the front seat). Also, she saw a revolver sticking out from under the front seat. Therefore, by seizing the revolver, she also satisfied the constitutional requirements, as stated in the plain view doctrine.
Officer Bird could have searched the trunk legally. This is because the occurrences at the traffic stop were enough to make her suspect that Quintana could have engaged in criminal activity. For instance, the discovery of the revolver and the white powdery substance made Quintana, a suspect. His angry spat and the statement he made: “You should see what’s in the trunk” were also enough to make Officer Bird suspect that there might be more incriminating evidence in the trunk.

Carmen, R. D. (2006). Criminal procedure: Law and practice. Cengage Learning.

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