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Wednesday, 17 September 2014
Trinidad and Tobago police search powers
Q: What are the laws on car searches without a warrant?
A: The police can stop and search any person, vehicle, and anything in or on the vehicle for certain items, but they must have reasonable grounds (e.g., smell of marijuana or suspicious behaviour by occupants) for suspecting that they will find evidence (weapons, drugs, stolen property, masks, gloves, etc.). Outside of this, a warrant is required under Section 41 of the Summary Courts Act 1918, as amended.
However, if a crime has occurred and the police have been given permission to set up a road block, they can stop and search you without having reasonable grounds for suspecting they will find the aforementioned items.
The police can become trespassers if they do not act within the law because without their legal powers, they are considered regular citizens. This has been established since Entick v Carrington , where Lord Camden CJ said: Our law holds the property of every man so sacred, that no man can set his foot upon his neighbour’s [property] without his [permission]; if he does, he is a trespasser, though he does no damage at all; if he will tread upon his neighbour’s ground, he must justify it by law…
This case has set a precedent all over the world, even being the reason behind the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.