So, how do you protect yourself against an illegal search of your car? The fourth amendment guarantees and protects you against illegal searches and seizures that extends to your personal vehicle. So when a police officer pulls you over for a traffic stop, asks you to step out and then asks the question “Do you mind if I take a look in your trunk, do you mind if I look around your car?” You have a constitutional right to say no.
So I’m here to say, how do you do that? Step one, you have to be firm. You have to be clear. You have to tell them something along the lines of you do not have my consent to search the vehicle. Supreme court cases have routinely held that if that no is wavering or of is unclear or vague, then the police officer is allowed to interpret that as implied consent. They’re allowed to say, “That no, wasn’t clear enough, so I believe I have consent to search the car.” Tie’s going to go to the runner in that case, the police officer’s right to search.
Step two, to be respectful. Nobody wants to pick up a resisting charge for fighting or arguing, or make matters worse by being aggressive or hostile with the officer. Simply say, “You do not have my consent to search the vehicle. I’m not going to impede you from doing your job. Thank you.” That’s it. If they move you away from the car, if they continue to search anyway, don’t make a fuss. Don’t yell, don’t scream, don’t fight. Just stand there. Let them conduct their business and let the lawyers handle it later.
Step three, say nothing else. Don’t answer questions. Don’t engage in small talk. Don’t do anything that would lead them to believe that you’re waiving your constitutional right to stay silent and to deny consent to search. You’d be amazed at the little things that people say, because they think that this is a question that doesn’t really matter, that then throws out a perfectly good motion to suppress, because they’ve somehow given consent to the search or they’ve made an admission that they didn’t realize that they were making.
So three steps. Be firm, be respectful, say nothing else. Those are the top three things that you can do to deny consent to search your car, protect yourself, protect your family, while still not putting yourself in a dangerous or a worse situation.
If you have any other questions, I’d be happy to answer them for you here at the Whalen Law Office. We’ve seen hundreds of these cases. We’ve worked them time and time again. We can walk you through them. So if you have anything you need, if you have anything that you’re not clear on, give me a call. I’m happy to walk you through it.
Thanks and have a happy Friday.