Alaska Personal Injury Attorneys

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Know Your Rights - You Do Not Have To Submit to A Police Search

Know Your Rights - You Do Not Have To Submit to A Police Search

Often, I receive calls from people who fell they were wrongfully required to submit to a police search. If a police officer stops you on the street or comes to your house, you do not have to submit to a search. The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects your right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Over the years, the Supreme Court has heard numerous cases on what exactly this means in practice; for example, evidence obtained from an illegal search of your property cannot be used against you. Note that all states must provide protections at least as strong as federal protections, but many states provide more protection.

Generally, police cannot enter your home without a search warrant and may not search you or your personal belongings in public spaces without a reasonable suspicion that you've committed or are going to commit a crime. There are a few exceptions, such as emergencies.

Another exception is if the person consents - agrees - to the search. This is why it's important to understand that you do not have to consent to a search. It's possible the officer might pressure you, and make you feel as though you have to agree to the search. Remember that you do not. If the officer begins to search you anyway, express clearly and as many times as you can that you do not consent to the search.

"But I haven't done anything wrong - wouldn't it be easier to go along with the search?" Maybe. And it's your choice whether or not you want to consent to a search; the important thing is to remember that you do not have to do so. Also, because officers deal with criminals for a living, even innocent behavior and actions can look suspicious to them, which could create, at the least, a hassle for you.

If you have a search and seizure issue, or have any questions about your rights under the Fourth Amendment, contact us.