Being searched by the police can be a scary event. And if the police find anything incriminating during their search, they may bring charges against you, or may use the evidence to secure a conviction for already existing charges.
What you may not know, however, is when police actually have the right to search your home or car. If police ask you if they can search your house or vehicle and you say no, do they have the right to proceed? Here’s what you need to know about your constitutional rights—
Your Right to Say No to a Search
Whether you are stopped at a routine traffic stop or for committing a traffic violation (like speeding), or a police officer shows up at your front door, you have the right to say no to a search of your property. While you should always do so politely and without any aggression, saying, “I do not consent to a search,” is perfectly within your legal rights. In most cases, police must respect your wishes, and cannot search your property as such.
When Can Police Lawfully Search a Home or Vehicle?
Police can lawfully search a home or vehicle when:
- They have probable cause to do so; or
- They have maintained a search warrant (which, in order to obtain, they must present probable cause for).
Probable cause is a legal requirement that is found in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Essentially, probable cause means that police have a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has been committed.
For example: You are pulled over for speeding. Upon asking for your license and registration, you open your glove box, and an open bottle of alcohol and a bag of what looks like illicit drugs are revealed. The police officer, even though he is standing outside of your car, sees these items. The police officer also notices that you are slurring your words, and seem to be impaired. The combination of facts leads the officer to decide that they have probable cause to search your vehicle as it is likely to assume that you committed a crime (drinking and driving, illegal drug possession, etc.).
A police officer cannot search your home or vehicle simply because you have been accused or charged with a crime in the past, “look” like a criminal, are speaking rudely to the police officer, or because they “feel” like it. When they do, this is a violation of search and seizure laws, and your constitutional rights have been breached.
Contact Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
If you are facing criminal charges and believe that evidence has been seized against you in an illegal manner, our experienced criminal defense attorneys will work tirelessly on your behalf. We believe that breaches of constitutional rights are appalling, and will attempt to get evidence against you dismissed/withheld from court. To learn more and schedule your free consultation, please contact our law offices today online or by phone.