4th Amendment: Search of Bags

4th Amendment Guide to Searches of Belongings, Backpacks, Bags

Often individuals travel with a bag, purse, or backpack, even when just leaving the home for a few hours. The 4th amendment protects against the unreasonable search of an individual's property, including bags and purses, however, in some situations law enforcement can search bag, backpacks, purses, and other belongings without a warrant.

There is no separate exception that allows officers to search a bag or belongings, however, coupled with the other exceptions to the fourth amendment listed on this site, officers have many options as to how to search without a warrant.

Upon probable cause, an officer may search an individual or his/her belongings located within close proximity, without a warrant. As stated in the other sections, on Search Incident to Arrest, officers may search bags. If probable cause is present during an auto search, law enforcement may search the entire car, including locked compartments such as the glove box, center console, or trunk. Any personal locked contained therein can also be searched, including briefcases and bags. If a purse is left open, and a marijuana pipe is visible in it, then the officer may search using Plain View Exceptions to the 4th amendment warrant requirement.


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