Searches and Your Rights

Now that the turkey and dressing are a fading memory, if not our waistlines, let’s return to the discussion of searches and your rights.

The exceptions discussed last time are matters over which you have no control. These are court made exemptions from the warrant requirement of the 4th Amendment. Most frequently encountered will be the “consent” exemption. As I have posted earlier any encounter with law enforcement is a legal matter not just a practical one. Which means, according to the Supreme Court, you must be thinking and speaking in a legal mindset not a routine conversation mindset.

A real world example helps illustrate this requirement. If you are the subject of a traffic stop for a minor violation and are told you are just getting a warning, then you should be on your guard for the coming questions. Once you are restored of your license, insurance and, if taken, your vehicle registration, then you are free to leave. The stop is concluded. Everything from this point on is voluntary on your part. If there are requests to “take a quick look” in your car, then say “No.” This is a fishing expedition at this point. You cannot legally be detained while he waits for a dog to arrive, if you decline to consent.

Do not permit yourself to feel pressured or required to submit to these requests. Also as I have stated in earlier posts, do not fall for the “Nothing to hide” bait.

Finally, be polite and friendly in a business like manner. Be clear in your refusal to permit the “quick look”. Advise the officer that it appears you are free to go and that is what you are doing.

As always, these are your rights, use them or lose them.