Anyone who has ever been on probation knows that it is a strange situation. No, you’re not in jail, and that’s a good thing, but at the same time, your life isn’t your own, either. Depending on the terms of your probation, you must make regular meetings with your probation officer; you may struggle with travel restrictions. There’s a good chance that you have to submit to a surprise drug screening. You may even be required to attend classes for things like substance abuse or anger management.
Now, in addition to everything else, you have learned that you may have to submit to warrantless vehicle searches simply because you’re on probation.
When it comes to probation, California law is odd. The way it is currently set up, the police really can search your vehicle, and even your home, without a warrant. The reason behind these seemingly random and questionable searches is that in the eyes of the law, the fact that you’re on probation indicates that you’ve at least been involved in criminal activity in the past. Your criminal past, combined with the fact that you’re on probation, suggests that random searches could turn up evidence of criminal activity.
If you are on probation, keeping anything that could suggest criminal activity out of your home, your vehicle and even any bags you carry is in your best interest. As long as you don’t have anything to suggest that you’re engaged in criminal activity while you’re on probation, the police can search as much as they like, but they won’t come up with any reason to revoke your probation or even bring additional charges against you.
If the police suddenly connect with you and say that they are going to search your car or your home, it’s important that you remain on your best behavior during this situation, no matter how frustrated or irritated you are by their actions. Losing your temper will accomplish nothing, and it could even result in you getting into even more legal trouble.
It is also a good idea to contact your lawyer and let them know that you’re being searched. They will advise you on the best way to proceed.