Should I Let Police Search My Vehicle If I’ve Done Nothing Wrong?

by J.D. Garrett on March 27, 2013

I get asked frequently about police searches. Many people tell me, “I have nothing to hide, why not let police search my ______ (vehicle, purse, home, person, etc.)?” The answer is simple, nothing good can come from consenting to a police search; only bad things can happen. Quite frankly, the only reason police want to perform a search is to find evidence of a crime, and then make an arrest.

Many people have ended up in my office because of something left behind by a friend, child or co-worker. A client was charged with felony possession of child pornography because a co-worker left a backpack in the back seat of his car; I’ve had teenagers charged with underage possession of alcohol because a friend put a small bottle of liquor in their purse at a party; I’ve had parents charged with felony possession of narcotics because their child hid some drugs in the hall closet. In all of these cases, they consented to a search because they thought they had nothing to hide.

“If I say no, they will think I’m guilty of something” or “Well, they’re going to find it anyway, I might as well consent to a search”

No! Police officers must have probable cause of a crime before they may search anything. Just because an officer has a hunch, that does not give him the authority to rummage through your personal belongings. Politely ask if you are free to leave, and then do so. If he says no, demand a criminal defense attorney to be present for any further questioning and do not consent to anything.

Finally, when you give a consent to a search, you have given up any right to make a claim for damaged or broken property. If you give consent to search your house, and the $10,000 vase gets knocked to the floor and breaks, that’s your responsibility. If you give consent to search your car and the police spill your Big Gulp all over your fine leather upholstery, that’s your responsibility. If you give police consent to search your computer and they erase your hard drive, that’s your responsibility.

Do not consent to give up your 4th Amendment guarantees against searches and seizures. Always state unequivocally, “I do not consent to searches.” If you have any questions regarding this or other Constitutional rights, please contact our criminal defense lawyers. (757) 422-4646. We are happy to ensure you and your rights are protected from police intimidation.

Attorney J.D. Garrett


J.D. Garrett is a criminal law attorney in the Virginia Beach office of Garrett Law Group, PLC. He has years of experience representing clients in the courts of Virginia Beach, Norfolk and surrounding areas.

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