Top 5 Reasons You Should Never Agree to a Police Search -Even if you think you have nothing to hide

By Bo Kalabus
www.rosenthalwadas.com
bo@kalabuslaw.com
Office: 972-562-7549
24 Hour Jail Release 214-402-4364

Whether or not you ever break the law, you should be prepared to protect yourself and your property just in case police become suspicious of you. Remember, this is one situation in life where you cannot un-ring the bell so to speak. Let’s take a look at one of the most commonly misunderstood legal situations a citizen can encounter: a police officer asking to search your belongings. Most people automatically give consent when police ask to perform a search. However, I recommend saying “no” to police searches, and here are some reasons why:

  1. It’s your right under the Constitution

The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures. Unless police have strong evidence, what is often called “Probable Cause” to believe you’re involved in criminal activity, they need your permission to perform a search of you or your property.

You have the right to refuse random police searches anywhere and anytime, so long as you aren’t crossing a border checkpoint or entering a secure facility like an airport. Don’t be shy about standing up for your own rights, especially when police are looking for evidence that could put you behind bars. Remember, if this situation no one else is going to assert your rights for you—it’s up to you.

  1. Refusing a search benefits you if you end up in court

It’s always possible that police might search you anyway when you refuse to give consent, but that’s no reason to say, “yes” to the search.  In this type of situation you have to plan for the long run. Basically, if there’s any chance of evidence being found, agreeing to a search is like committing legal suicide, because it kills your case before you even get to court. One you let the police in and they find evidence, it is literally impossible to keep that evidence out at trial.

If you refuse a search, however, the officer will have to prove in court that there was probable cause to do a warrantless search. This will give your lawyer something to work with and a good chance to win your case, but this only works if you said “no” to the search—once the toothpaste comes out of the tube, it’s very difficult to put it back in.

  1. Saying “no” never felt so good—and it can prevent a search

I know refusing searches works because the police talk about it in passing in court at hearing on other matters. The reality is that police routinely ask for permission to search when they have absolutely no evidence of an actual crime. If you can take a deep breath and remain calm and say “no”, there’s a good chance the police will relent, because it’s a waste of time to do searches that won’t hold up in court anyway.

  1. Searches waste time and may damage your property

Do you have time to sit around while police rifle through your belongings? Police often spend 30 minutes or more on vehicle searches and even longer searching homes. And I’ve seen cases where the police really dismantle things and the police will not put everything back together for you when they are finished either. If you waive your 4th Amendment rights by agreeing to be searched, you will have few legal options if any when property is damaged or missing after the search.

  1. You never know what they’ll find till you know

Are you 100 percent certain there’s nothing illegal in your home or vehicle? You just can’t be too sure. The scenarios are endless–A joint roach could stick to your shoe on the street and wind up on the floorboard. A careless friend, or family member could have dropped a baggie of cocaine behind the seat. Try telling the police you are a nice guy and it isn’t yours, and they’ll just laugh and say “sure it isn’t hero” and tell you to put your hands behind your back. If you agreed to the search, you can’t challenge the evidence and possession (care, custody, and control of the contraband) can be hard to overcome if the contraband is located in your vehicle for example. But if you’re innocent and you refused the search, your lawyer has a decent shot to win the case.

Remember that knowing your rights will help you protect yourself, but no amount of preparation can guarantee a good outcome in a bad situation. Your attitude and your choices before, during, and after the encounter will usually matter more than your knowledge of the law. Stay calm no matter what happens and be polite.

Please spread the word on this information, you will never know when you or a friend will need it. Trying to repair the damage on the back end is darn near impossible—what you don’t know will hurt you.

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