If you are stopped by the police, you may wonder what rights you have. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure. But what exactly does that mean? If the police ask whether they can conduct a search of your property, you have the right to deny the request. In some cases, it is in your best interest to refuse a police search. This applies to your property including your person, home, and vehicle.
Should I Refuse a Search?
There are several instances when it may be best to refuse a search of your property. You may have something illegal that you don’t want to be found or you may not know whether there is something that the police could find. It can be a good idea to refuse a search even when you haven’t done anything wrong. For instance, if you had passengers in your vehicle, they could have left something illicit behind that you don’t know about. If the police find something in your car, the driver will be held responsible.
When Must I Allow A Search?
There are some circumstances when you cannot refuse a search. Some of these include:
When the police officer sees evidence of a crime. If the police view something in plain view that is illegal, it means that the officer can legally search your property based on probable cause.
- If the police have a search warrant, they can legally search your premises. You cannot refuse entry or you could be charged with obstruction of justice, in addition to any additional crimes based on the search.
- If you are arrested, you cannot refuse a search. Upon your arrest, the officer has the legal right to check your belongings. If you hide something illegal and they find it at the jail, you could face additional charges.
- When you admit guilt, the police can search your person and vehicle. For example, if you admit that you are in possession of drugs, the officer has the right to conduct a complete search.
Generally, in other situations, the police must obtain a warrant to conduct a search. If you are stopped in your vehicle, it is not possible to obtain a warrant that quickly. However, keep in mind that the officer can detain you for a short period of time while they bring a trained police dog to the location. The police can take the dog around the outside of your vehicle and if the dog alerts, it gives the police probable cause to conduct a vehicle search.
Seek Legal Representation
It can be hard to know what to do at the time, but if you are charged with a crime, you should immediately seek legal representation. Criminal Lawyers in Columbus Ga will work to reduce or eliminate bail and can be present when the police question you at the station. Keep in mind that you have the right to have your lawyer present during questioning because if you say anything it can be used against you in court. Your attorney will try to reduce the charges or exclude evidence if it was obtained in an illegal manner. Contact the legal team at Moffitt Law, LLC for an initial case consultation.
Tyler Moffitt is a Family Law and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices Carrollton, LaGrange, and Columbus, GA. He graduated from John Marshall Law School, and has been practicing for several years now. Tyler Moffitt takes great honor in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.