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Say “No” When Police Ask For Consent To Search Your Vehicle


Saying no is hard, especially if it is to a law enforcement officer with a gun and a badge. You may think that it’s not a real question, and that you kind of have to say yes to an armed officer even if they are phrasing it like a question. You may also feel like it’s better to seem cooperative, even if you know that you have something to hide. Many people say after the fact that they thought police would have more leniency on them if they were just honest and forthcoming. Here is the truth: if police have the legal authority to search your vehicle, they won’t ask you for it. Cops don’t like to ask for anything if they don’t have to, so if they are asking for permission, it’s because they need it.

Why Refusing to Consent to Vehicle Searches is So Important

If police ask you if they can search your vehicle and you agree, it doesn’t matter if the search otherwise would have been illegal. Even if the police had no probable cause for stopping you and no probable cause to search your vehicle, you can no longer raise those as violations of your constitutional rights once your consent has been given. This removes a major potential avenue for evidence to be suppressed, and essentially guarantees that any evidence found in the search will be admissible. By agreeing to a search, regardless of your motives or rationale, you are pretty much shooting yourself in the foot from a legal standpoint. It’s the worst of both worlds because not only have you been caught in possession of something illegal, but you’ve removed most of your bases for challenging the charges. If you say no and they search the vehicle anyway, without a search warrant or probable cause, then any evidence seized can be excluded under the doctrine of “fruit of the poisonous tree.” In other words, because the search wasn’t lawful, neither is anything that they find as a result of it.

What if the Police Trick You into Searching Your Vehicle?

If police do not have probable cause or a search warrant they will require your permission to search your vehicle. They may try to make it sound like a casual ask, like, “Mind if I take a quick peek back here?” However, even if you know you don’t have anything where they asked to look, it’s important not to give consent. Police know that getting limited consent is a gateway to getting unlimited consent. This occurs if they find anything to give probable cause in the limited area that you agreed to. For instance, if you say they can look in the trunk, but when they look in the trunk they decide some sand or dust could be cocaine, they can use that to expand their search to the rest of the vehicle.

Talk to an Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing drug possession or other criminal charges in Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, or anywhere in Georgia, the experienced Georgia criminal defense attorneys at Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers are ready to fight for you. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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