Guest Post – Always Refuse a Police Search

by Scott Morgan on May 7, 2013

Although the Morgan Law Firm focuses exclusively on divorce and family law, we also like to provide our readers with sound tips on how to handle common legal issues that arise. Today’s guest post is on what to do when the police ask to search your vehicle and it is by Virginia lawyer Andrew Flusche, who focuses on helping drivers fight their Virginia reckless driving tickets. He also wrote the highly-rated consumer book, Fight Your Virginia Reckless Driving Ticket. Find Andrew on Google+. Let’s hear from Andrew:

search-150Even people who don’t normally have run ins with the police may have an occasion where the police ask to search their vehicle. Let’s say you’re pulled over for a routine traffic violation, and the officer decides to fish for something more. He’ll ask “You don’t have any drugs or weapons, do you?” Once you answer “No,” he’ll ask, “Then you don’t mind if I search?”

What do you say?

“No, you do not have my permission to search.”

It’s that simple. Under no circumstance should you consent to a police to search your vehicle.

Consent removes possible legal challenge

Probable cause is a legal standard that the police must usually have in order to search your vehicle. There are plenty of exceptions to this, and it can vary from state to state; however, the general rule is that in order to search your vehicle, the police need to have probable cause of some type of crime or contraband.

If the police don’t have a legal reason to search, the normal remedy is that they cannot use the evidence they found against you in court. If they find a little marijuana blunt that a friend left in your vehicle and they didn’t have a legal reason to search, then we should be able to beat the charge.

However, if you consent to the police search, they do not need any reason to search. They can search for no reason at all, simply because you allowed them into your vehicle. In many cases, they may have a great reason to search, and we may not have any challenge, but at least we have a chance to examine whether or not they had a valid reason to search and see if we can argue to suppress any evidence they found.

You’re exercising your rights

You have the Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures. This is the right to be free of unwarranted intrusion by the police. You should assert that right just as you assert your right to vote and your right to have free speech. All these are rights are protected under the U.S. Constitution, and you should assert them.

This doesn’t mean you should be rude to the officer; however, you should say “no, you may not search.” It’s polite, it’s firm, and it’s clear that they do not have your permission.

You never know what may be in your vehicle

I handle a lot of Virginia reckless driving and Virginia DUI cases for clients, and I’m always astounded at the people who have no clue what’s in their car. And for a lot of my cases for possession of marijuana in Virginia my clients will say that they had no clue marijuana was in the vehicle. I believe many of them, because the police just found some seeds or buds in the floorboard.

Some people don’t keep their cars very clean. There is all sorts of trash and different things in the vehicle that make it difficult to see what’s in the vehicle. When the police are looking for contraband, they’re going to look under all that stuff. They’re going to turn over every piece of trash and try to see if there’s anything that they can prove is contraband, and you never know what may be under all that debris. You can’t be sure if there’s anything under there.

It’s the smart thing to do

Given the extreme risk of allowing a police search, it’s only smart to refuse their ability to search. Protect your right, protect the possible challenge down the road, and refuse the search. Simply say “no thank you, you may not search my vehicle.”

image credit: photobucket

Related Posts

Can Dad See the Kids if He’s Not Paying Child Support

A Tale of Two Divorce Clients

Do You Have Questions About Austin Family Law?

{ 0 comments }

Key Property Division Valuation Issues in Texas Divorce

April 9, 2013
Thumbnail image for Key Property Division Valuation Issues in Texas Divorce

The typical procedure for Texas divorce lawyers to analyze property division in a divorce case is to put all the assets and liabilities on a spreadsheet and fill in the values.  At that point the division usually starts to make sense as you assign certain assets and liabilities to each of the parties.  Often these […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Your Income Tax Return and the Child Dependency Exemption

March 22, 2013
Thumbnail image for Your Income Tax Return and the Child Dependency Exemption

Since April 15th is approaching I thought it might be a good idea to address a common family law/tax question. The question is as follows:  post-divorce which party is entitled to take the dependency exemption for the children, the person paying child support or the person receiving child support. People are frequently confused about this, […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Child Support Modification in Texas – What is the Standard?

February 28, 2013
Thumbnail image for Child Support Modification in Texas – What is the Standard?

This article will outline the current Texas law on child support modification and explain when it makes sense to pursue a child support modification. Child support modification is addressed in Texas Family Code Section 156.401 through Section 156.409.  Whether you are the payor who is seeking a reduction or the payee seeking an increase, the […]

1 comment Read the full article →

Information on Travis County Divorce

January 21, 2013
Thumbnail image for Information on Travis County Divorce

Austin is located in Travis County, Texas.  Where to file for divorce in Texas is determined by county, specifically it must be a county where one of the parties has resided for at least the past 90 days at the time of filing.  This is in addition to the requirement that one of the parties […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Austin Divorce Lawyer Reviews

December 28, 2012
Thumbnail image for Austin Divorce Lawyer Reviews

Everyone plans on it being forever when they say “I do” but the reality is that it doesn’t always work out that way.  When it becomes apparent to you that this is your situation, then you want to make sure your divorce is handled appropriately.  The disintegration of something that you thought was permanent is […]

1 comment Read the full article →

Hiding Assets in Divorce – is it Worth the Risk

November 14, 2012
Thumbnail image for Hiding Assets in Divorce – is it Worth the Risk

While attempting to hide assets in a divorce case is not commonplace, it happens more often than you might imagine.  As an attorney I would never advise a client to attempt to hide assets nor would I help them in their efforts to do so.  Aside from the legal and ethical issues, it is simple […]

0 comments Read the full article →

A Helpful Aid for Long-Distance Access: Skype Visitation

October 25, 2012
Thumbnail image for A Helpful Aid for Long-Distance Access: Skype Visitation

When a couple has divorced and one or both of the parties has moved out of the area, it can make it can become extremely difficult and sometimes impossible for the non-custodial parent to have frequent access and communication with the children.  With the increasing mobility of our society and the much more typical career […]

8 comments Read the full article →

How to Deal with a House in a Divorce

October 19, 2012
Thumbnail image for How to Deal with a House in a Divorce

A common issue in most divorce cases is what to do with the marital residence.  If the parties rent their residence this is not a big issue, but in most divorce cases there will be owned real estate that must be dealt with. Two Most Common Ways to Handle While every case is different and […]

15 comments Read the full article →

Texas Post-Divorce Alimony

October 15, 2012
Thumbnail image for Texas Post-Divorce Alimony

In this article I will explain the key points in Texas posts-divorce alimony. Please note that alimony is a particularly complicated area and you should consult with a qualified family law attorney about the specifics of your case if you believe you may be entitled to receive or possibly obligated to pay alimony. Also, this […]

1 comment Read the full article →