“We are searching for controlled substances,” is one of the most intimidating things that anyone can hear. If you are in this situation, do you know what to do? It is important that you know your rights when you or your property is the subject of a search. In this article, we will look at why the police may be searching you and what you can do to ensure that you enjoy the best possible outcome.
Is it legal for the police to search you and your property?
In the United States, we have many protected rights. One of those is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. There are, however, two ways that the police can legally search you or your property. The first is if they have a warrant. The second is if they have probable cause to believe that you are committing a crime. In either case, how you handle the situation can significantly impact your future.
Do’s and Don’ts of Searches
Whether you are pulled over driving up 85 towards Charlotte or South Caroline State Troopers knock on your door to serve a warrant, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Stay calm – Searches are terrifying and highly intrusive. Even if you don’t have anything to hide, they are going to cause you a lot of stress. It is very important to stay calm through this entire process. There may not be anything to find and, if there is, the police may not find it. The police may be dead wrong about searching you or your property in the first place but arguing, acting aggressively, trying to reason with the police, or otherwise losing your cool can wind you up in more trouble than the search. While it is hard, always try to be respectful and controlled.
- Don’t consent – You always have the right to give up your rights. If you tell the police that they can search you or your property when they do not have a warrant, even if they were wrong in doing so, it may be difficult to improve the situation. Police might try to do things that make you feel like you have to let them search. Sometimes they will say, “for your safety and mine I am going to search you” or “you would let me search if you don’t have anything to hide.” In these cases, you should tell them no. If the police think they have enough information to search you or your property they won’t ask, so don’t do their work for them.
- Ask questions and pay attention – You can absolutely ask questions and you must pay attention to what is going on. If this is a search from a warrant, the police should give you a copy of that warrant. If there are inaccuracies, like they are at the wrong house and the person named is not you, politely point this out. Also, pay attention to who searches what and if anything is taken.
- Don’t talk – Other than asking some questions, politely, don’t talk. Officers may ask questions that try to get you to admit things. Questions like “what have we here” and “care to explain why you have this” are designed to get you to say or do something that could be used against you later in trial. Remember that you have a right to remain silent and you should not talk to the police if they are asking you questions. Once again, you can do this politely by simply telling them that you are not going to answer any questions.
- Call a lawyer – As soon as possible, call a lawyer. You may be able to call an attorney before or during the search and, if not, make sure to call as soon as you can. Officers may try and interrogate you so inform them that you would like to speak with your attorney. If the police do not find anything, it is still very important that you contact an attorney to see if your rights may have been violated.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Fighting a drug charge can be difficult but if you follow the above steps and quickly contact a criminal defense attorney, you will be in a much better position to fight your charge. The Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures are extremely complex. Mo Abusaft, and other lawyers practicing criminal defense, can examine the facts of a case and apply the law to help you achieve the best possible outcome. In some cases, this may mean that the case is dismissed.
If you are not charged with a crime, however, allowing the police to get away with violating your civil rights is not acceptable. Mo Abusaft also practices civil rights law and can assist you in defending the protections guaranteed by the constitution. Civil rights are not violated every time the police make mistakes but, having a skilled attorney review your case can ensure that, when rights are violated, people are held accountable.