Our last post touched on the issue of police searches without probable
the illustrative example of an infamous Jay-Z rap verse. In this article, we’ll give you a closer look at what probable
cause means, and how you can avoid getting arrested or searched.
The Most Important Thing: “I do not consent to any searches.”
There are many laws and legal concepts that interact with your constitutional
rights to privacy and living life free of unfair arrests and searches.
It’s pretty much impossible for anybody to keep in mind all the
specific laws of a jurisdiction on top of the legal precedents set by
courts of law at all levels in the United States.
If you don’t take anything away from this post, at least remember
this: anytime there is a situation where a law enforcement official may
search you, make it clear that you do not consent to any searches. It’s
very likely that police may search your clothes, car, or property anyway,
but as long as you refused to consent, your defense lawyer will have the
ability to challenge the results of a search.
On the other hand, if you allowed an officer to have a look around your
house, if you said it was okay for the officer to check your trunk out,
or if you emptied our your pockets, you consented to a search, and the
police can easily use that search against you in court. Just memorize
the simple phrase, “I do not consent to any searches.”
Probable Cause in Police Searches
In most cases, the police conduct a search without your consent if they
have a valid search warrant. However, in order to obtain a warrant, police
must pass a legal standard – they have to establish probable cause.
For a police officer to have probable cause he or she must have hard facts
that cause him or her to believe that you are engaged in criminal activity
– in other words, probable cause is a pretty high standard, and
it can often be challenged by an experienced defense lawyer.
Probable cause is especially important because in some cases, police do
not need a search warrant to search you without consent. For example,
if a police officer thinks he will later be able to argue that he had
probable cause to believe you were armed, he can frisk you for weapons.
Similarly, if a cop stops you for a traffic violation like speeding, but
then decides there is probable cause that you are transporting drugs,
she may search your car without a warrant and without your consent.
Fighting Probable Cause
we mentioned in our last post, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”
does a pretty good job of describing rights, but one place where the rapper is mistaken is when he tells a policeman
cannot search the car because the officer does not have a warrant –
the cops only need probable cause to search cars. Of course, you can avoid
giving the police excuses to search your car by not acting suspiciously
or nervously, by not behaving rudely or saying self-incriminating things,
by staying calm and collected, by exercising your right to remain silent,
and by not displaying illegal items in plain view.
Above all, you should remember to never consent to a search, and to immediately
contact an experienced defense attorney if you’re charged with a
crime after a police search. The defense attorneys of The Kyle Law Firm
know the law on your rights better than any police officer, and will be
sure to fight any search results that could put you in trouble.
Contact us today to reserve your free case consultation, and remember to stay tuned for
our post on police drug search dogs.