If you have been pulled over by a law enforcement officer for any traffic violation, the officer may ask to search your car. He or she may simply say, “Do you mind if I search your car?” in a way that is conversational, catching you off guard so you agree to allow the search. Or, the officer asks in such a way that you feel you have no choice. You do have a choice, and it is never a good idea to consent to a search of your vehicle.
It Is Your Constitutional Right to Refuse Consent for a Search
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects you against a warrantless search unless law enforcement officers have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and you are the one that committed it. If there is no probable cause, they need your consent in order to conduct a search.
Even if you think you have nothing to hide, you need to know that many people have thought that and ended up having something in the car that officers misconstrued as evidence of a crime. Instead of consenting say, in a very polite tone of voice, “No. I am exercising my constitutional right not to consent.”
Refusing Often Prevents a Search
If you refuse to give consent, and officers do not have probable cause to search, there should be no search. When you refuse, officers know that even if they find something they think is evidence of a crime, if they search without your consent and without probable cause, your attorney will file a motion to suppress. Chances are great that any evidence they might find will not be admissible against you in court.
A Consent to Search Takes Away Your Grounds to Object to Any Evidence That Is Found
If you consent to the search, and the officers find anything they can use as evidence against you, you have no grounds to object in court. You tie your attorney’s hands, and the evidence will be admissible against you without a fight.
If your car was searched following a traffic stop, whether or not you gave consent, contact a Jacksonville Florida defense attorney at the Law Office of James Davis.