Carroll v. United States was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1925 that established the “automobile exception” to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement for searches and seizures. In this case, the Court ruled that law enforcement officers do not need a warrant to search a vehicle if they have probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime.
The case arose when federal agents stopped a vehicle that they believed was being used to transport illegal liquor, searched the vehicle without a warrant, and found a large quantity of liquor. The defendants argued that the search was unconstitutional because it was conducted without a warrant. However, the Court held that the exigent circumstances created by the mobile nature of the vehicle made it unreasonable to require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant before searching it.
The “automobile exception” has been widely adopted by courts across the United States and has been extended to other types of mobile vehicles, such as boats and aircraft. It is an important principle in the criminal justice system, as it allows law enforcement officers to quickly act on probable cause and prevent the destruction of evidence or the commission of further crimes.