Tips for Avoiding Unreasonable Search and Seizure

By Manuel Gonzalez

Search and seizure law is complex and ever changing and the police always know it better than you. Don’t give them an even bigger advantage by agreeing to a search of your home, your car, or your person.

The 4th Amendment to the Constitution says that you are supposed to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures unless the police have a warrant. In other words, the law specifically sets forth when an officer can look through your possessions and what he can take if he finds it during the search.
If I let the police search my car, new case law suggests that unless my consent is limited, they can search anywhere in the passenger compartment, including hidden places and containers. That means behind the door panels, speakers, or dash area.

Searches have been expanded to places the framers of the constitution could never have imagined, like inside your body. If the police stop your car and think you are intoxicated, they can ask a judge to give them a warrant to “search” inside your body for evidence of intoxication contained within your blood.

We have a huge body of case law that prevents the State from infringing on your right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and ensures the police must follow all the applicable rules when searching your car or person, and all of it is thrown right out the window when you tell the police it is okay to go ahead and look through your car, house, pockets, or body.

Say NO.

It really is that easy. Just like you should say “no” to drugs, you should also say “no” to searches. If you are carrying something you don’t want the police to find, do not let them search for it.

I have often asked clients why they consented to a search and often I hear the same rationale; “I thought if I said yes, the officer wouldn’t go through with the search.”

I cannot conceive of a worse rationale. Of course the officer is always going to search if you let him. The police are very intelligent and they know that the more opportunities they get to look for illegal stuff the more often they will find it.

To be quite frank, if they had a legitimate legal reason to search your car, they would do it without asking most of the time. Even if they have a legitimate legal reason to search your car, person, or home, if you give them consent to search you give up the opportunity to complain about the search later in court.

Tips for avoiding all types of searches:

Keep your appearance neat and clean. Look like a criminal, get treated like one. There is a reason why middle-aged women driving minivans rarely get pulled over.

Keep your car clean. When I say clean I mean get your car detailed at least a couple of times a year. People who leave the inside of their car messy often forget about things they have tossed on the floor or cannot see items other people have left behind.

Keep your car in good working order. Don’t give the police a reason to stop you. Make sure your car is registered, inspected, and that all the lights work. A busted taillight can cost you thousands and a trip to jail.

Put questionable items in the trunk of your car. There is no excuse to leave illegal items in the passenger compartment of your car. Better yet, don’t put anything illegal in your car.

Don’t attract unwanted attention. If your stereo has to be that loud for you to hear it, get your hearing checked. All you are doing is inviting the police to pull you over and give you a hard time.

Don’t carry drugs on your person. This is common sense regarding illegal drugs, but prescription drugs carried outside the containers they are dispensed in can get you arrested as well.

Don’t carry cigarette packages or hide your drugs inside them. This is the first place police look for dope.

Don’t leave smoking paraphernalia where police can see it. Nobody believes you use that bong or water pipe to smoke tobacco! If an officer sees something like that it will only confirm that he or she really needs to find some legal way to search you, your car, or your home.

Be careful what a police officer can see when standing at your front door. A police officer standing at your front door can look inside when you open it. What the police see from your front door is considered in “plain view” and thus not an actual search. Once the police have lawfully seen something illegal in your home they can then seize it and get a warrant to look for more.

If you can see out, the police can see in. Looking through a window does not constitute a search in most instances. No one should be able to look into your home and watch what you are doing without you knowing about it. Put up window shears or install windows with either faceted glass or glass that distorts the viewable image.

The most important thing to remember when asked for consent to search is to say “no”.

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About ahrlawfirm
Albin | Harrison | Roach is an experienced family law, business litigation and criminal law firm serving clients in Collin, Dallas, and Denton counties. We have made it our mission to put the true meaning of “counsel” back into legal services. At Albin | Harrison | Roach, legal services aren’t viewed as a series of isolated legal events but as a comprehensive resource to protect, enhance and simplify the personal and professional lives of our clients. Our highly-skilled attorneys practice in the areas of divorce and family law, business litigation and transactions, employment law, criminal defense, collaborative law, estate planning, wills and probate.

4 Responses to Tips for Avoiding Unreasonable Search and Seizure

  1. Joe says:

    When you say “no”, they will call for a canine unit and pretend that the dog smells something and will search your car anyway!

  2. Darryl says:

    And by the way I did not have any drugs or anything that was illegal was released after nothing was found DWB is not a myth!

  3. Darryl says:

    Good common sense…If an officer didn’t ask but took you out of your car and told he was going to search it and search you for failing to signal? He didn’t ask for permission at all? Just said you act nervous and I’m going to search you and your vechile.It’s that following the law?

  4. Lynn says:

    I would jut like to say this article is borderline common sense and also seemed a tad bit judgemental toward criminals/people that do drugs. And let’s face it if your googling search and sezuire laws chances are you probably trying to hide something..maybe a firearm maye drugs but n

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