The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens (and non-citizens) from unreasonable search and seizure. Law enforcement must first obtain a warrant based on probable cause before a search can take place. However, there are instances when a search is reasonable without a warrant. Law enforcement can conduct a warrantless search of you and your property if you voluntarily give them consent.
What is Consent?
“Can I search your vehicle?” “Sure.” Is a likely scenario were a person orally agrees to allow law enforcement to search. Any person law enforcement reasonably believes has a right to control the property (roommate, coworker, family member) can give consent. Consent must be given clearly and voluntarily; not coerced with threats or trickery. However, law enforcement does not need to tell you consent is voluntary. The person whose property is being searched may revoke consent at any time, either orally or through actions.
What Should You Do?
Remember, you do not have to give consent. Officers will try a variety of methods to convince you to consent, but if you do not want your property or person searched say so! If there is a language barrier, ask to speak to an interpreter. Do not sign anything that you cannot read and fully understand. Remember you can always withdraw your consent once it is given, but you must make this clear to law enforcement. Always be polite and courteous; being rude or combative will get you nowhere. As mentioned above, consent to search your effects can be given by people close to you. It is important to make clear to the people you share a home or office with that they do not have your permission to consent to a search and that if police ask, they should say no.
If you have been charged with a crime after the police have searched you or your property, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.
James Minick is founder and C.E.O. of Minick Law, P.C. James is committed to providing top notch legal services through his team of highly specialized legal professionals. James will defend your rights.