Just Don’t Do It! – Do Not Consent to Search

I have been practicing law for many years in Metropolitan Atlanta and have seen a wide variety of reactions to getting arrested. Some of these reactions are unwise, but understandable. Others are self defeating to the point of being bizarre. Sometimes I just shake my head and say, “Lord have mercy!” No one plans to be arrested. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time.

Are you prepared to deal with that life changing moment? Children get arrested too. Are you prepared to educate your child on how to deal with that situation? Let’s think about what you will do and not do if you ever hear the phrase, “Put your hands behind you.” To guard your rights and interests, the simplest TO DO rule is to do what you are told. Simple, but somehow it often escapes someone who is either scared or intoxicated. More important to guarding your rights and interests is knowing what NOT TO DO. Each week, I will give you my tip on what you SHOULD NOT do if you are arrested. — Just Don’t Do It!

Don’t give permission to search anywhere. Our Constitution affords you many rights. One of the basic rights that date back to the creation of this nation is the right of privacy. No one, including the police, may invade your private space without your permission or consent. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as when the police have a reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed. This could include having illegal contraband in plain view of the officer, or the smell of recently burnt marijuana. If the police ask to search, it probably means they don’t believe they have the right to search and therefore need your consent. If you are ordered to hand over your keys, state loudly “You do NOT have my permission to search.” If bystanders hear you or if you are recorded on the police cruiser’s camera refusing to give consent, whatever is found may be excluded from evidence later. Many arrests occur following a traffic stop for a simple driving violation, such as weaving, illegal lane change, or speeding. It happens all too often that a driver, who would otherwise be given a traffic citation and released, is asked by the officer for consent to search the vehicle and the driver feels compelled to give their consent to search. Bad move! If illegal contraband is discovered during the search, that contraband may be the only evidence that the court has for a conviction. They would not have had that evidence if you had refused to give the consent to search. This is also a good reason not to talk, even if it seems all is lost when they find something incriminating. Remember that it is your right to refuse to give anyone, including the police, the right to search your car or home. Just Don’t Do It!

Attorney Emerson Carey, Jr. has been a trial lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia for over 21 years. He is an adjunct professor at Emory University School of law where he teaches trial advocacy. Attorney Carey can be reached at 404-635-1112; 1-877-635-1112; ecarey@careydobson.com.


Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Every criminal prosecution is based on its individual facts and requires an independent evaluation by a licensed, experienced attorney.