I have not done anything, and I do not have anything on me. What is the harm in consenting to a police search?
I am so glad that you asked that question because this scenario happens all the time. You get stopped, and the officer runs your information. Everything checks out, your license is good, your tags are good, and everything is good. Everything is good until the officer says, “By the way, do you mind if we search your car?” You entertain saying yes, after all, you haven’t done anything, and you don’t have anything on you. What is the harm?
Here is a possibility, and something I have seen happen often in these situations. Suppose that you live in a family of four or five people, and maybe two or three people in the family drive your car. Chances are, you are not checking the car after every time someone borrows your vehicle. You have not checked under or between the seats. When you have friends in your car, I am willing to bet that most of you do not check in the back and in the crevices of the seats to see what they may have left behind. You might not have anything to hide, but maybe there is something in your vehicle that you simply did not know about. So, you give police permission to search your vehicle, and you are sitting in the front, feeling relaxed because you know this will all be over in a moment. That relaxed feeling lasts until the officer comes back to your window and you are confronted with something that is illegal. Before you can figure out what in the world is going on, you are placed in handcuffs. By consenting to a search, you have found yourself in a very bad and completely unnecessary situation.
There is another scenario that I have become familiar with. When you give law enforcement consent to search, there is a chance that in the process of searching they will mishandle your belongings. They are rough with your things, your stuff ends up damaged, and you are left with no way to get it fixed.
This next possibility I hate to even bring up, but unfortunately, it is just a part of the world we live in. There are a lot of people in law enforcement who are just doing their job, but unfortunately, there are also dishonest officers out there. Some have been known to plant evidence in an unsuspecting person’s car. Therefore, it is important, even if you have not done anything, to say, “Officer, I understand that you are only doing your job, but I do not consent to searches.” Do not worry about whether refusing makes you look guilty or not, stand firm in your decision.
I hope that this has been helpful, and I ask you to please share this information with the important people in your life. If you have any questions for me, call me, or send me an email. Until next time, remember- if you have to be guilty of anything, be guilty of greatness (and don’t you consent to any searches!).