Author Topic: UNAUTHORIZED SEARCH OF VEHICLE  (Read 2749 times)


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« on: December 04, 2018, 08:40:35 PM »
I had a debate tonight regarding U.S. vs. Robinson 4th Circuit (West Virginia case?).  Please clarify this issue:  I reside in Oklahoma and possess a valid carry license.  Scenario:   I get stopped for simple speeding, I present valid DL, vehicle documentation, and my carry license and I tell the officer I have a firearm in the vehicle.  I am being told that under the U.S. vs. Robinson, the officer can search my vehicle without permission or authorization because of the fact that I could be "armed and dangerous".....see the quote from the article>>>>>>"Simply carrying a firearm, even lawfully, is enough to make you dangerous and subject to a police search and disarmament".   Is this true?  Can LE search my vehicle following an infraction if I present valid driving and firearm credentials? 


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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2018, 02:53:32 PM »
Dear egris52788,

Yes, this is generally true. Police officers can disarm an armed occupant of a vehicle, based on the officer safety exception and the caselaw described below. However, this question is a difficult one because the issues are still being debated in the higher courts.

Typically, police officers need a warrant based on probable cause before they can conduct a search of your person or vehicle. However, over the years the courts have created a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement, including the Terry stop (commonly known as the stop and frisk). Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) allows an officer who makes a lawful traffic stop and has reasonable suspicion that a driver or passenger is armed and dangerous, to pat down or frisk the occupant in order to search for dangerous weapons without the necessity of a warrant. In U.S. v. Robinson, 846 F.3d 694 (4th Cir. 2017), the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals expanded the scope of Terry stops. In that case, an officer received a tip that a man in a dangerous area had just loaded a firearm and then placed it in his pocket before hopping into a vehicle. The police soon located and pulled over the car. The officer frisked Robinson and uncovered his firearm. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the stop was justified, concluding that an officer who makes a lawful traffic stop and who has a reasonable suspicion that an individual is armed and dangerous may frisk the individual for the officer’s protection, regardless of whether the person is legally carrying the firearm. U.S. v. Robinson is currently up for review by the Supreme Court of the United States.

It’s important to note that all cases are fact dependent and because no person’s situation is 100% alike, it’s impossible to apply one standard to every case. Generally speaking, with all the exceptions to the warrant requirement, including the Terry stop, an officer will be able to articulate some reason for disarming you. Even if you do not pose a danger to the officer, the catch-all of “officer safety” is usually an accepted reason for a warrantless search. Unfortunately, anyone exercising their Second Amendment right is said to effectively surrender their Fourth Amendment rights against warrantless detentions and searches. If you would like to discuss these concepts further, please feel free to contact Texas LawShield and ask to speak to your independent program attorney.