June 6, 2007 By Wallin & Klarich

Here are some examples on how you should exercise this GOLDEN RULE:

Officer Q: Can I search your car?
A: No
Officer Q: Can I search your pockets?
A: No
Officer Q: Can I search your house?
A: No
You get the point? Always, under any and all circumstances, just say NO.

The law says that ANY search conducted WITHOUT a Search Warrant is presumed ILLEGAL.

Which means, generally speaking, if an officer or agent of the government seizes something of yours as a result of a search which he didn’t have a warrant for, it can’t be used against you. Now, of course, like any other area of the law, there are loopholes, more like “loop-valleys” filled with a hundred and one exceptions – but I won’t boggle you down with those. (That’s why you hire an attorney.) All you need to know is say NO. Because if the day comes, and you said yes, when none of these one-hundred-and-one exceptions applied, you just lost any chance you had of getting the evidence kicked out. Why? Because you gave up your right to privacy, when you gave the officer consent to search you.

Unfortunately, when you’re detained by a police officer, you want to be nice, and not upset them, and give them what they want in hopes that they let you go. NO! Do not be naïve and think the officer wants to help you. The officer wants to uphold the law, which means, if you’re doing something illegal, he’s not going to cut you a break because he thinks you’re a nice guy. Now this doesn’t mean you curse at him, and completely disregard his authority. Be courteous, respectful, and tactfully assert your right to privacy. It’s in the Constitution for a reason – USE IT.

Now, if the officer knocks on your door and has a search warrant, ask to SEE IT, and actually take the time to read it. The officer is LIMITED to search only the areas listed in the search warrant, or for the items listed in the search warrant. For instance, if he is looking for a car that is suspected of being stolen, he can’t go through your drawers. (I hope you realize he can’t because there’s no way a car could fit inside your dresser drawer.)

At the end of the day, it comes down to this: If an officer has a warrant to search your home, he’s going to search it. There is nothing you can do about it. But if he walks up to your door with a valid search warrant, and you say “Come on in, take a look at whatever you want, I’ve got nothing to hide.” You just gave him the right to search every nook and cranny of your home, having no idea what he was looking for in the first place. Same thing goes for your car. If an officer pulls you over, this does not automatically give him the legal OK to search your car. He needs to have a reason. But if he asks you – “Can I search your car?” and you say “Yes.” He no longer needs a reason. But if you say “No” and he searches it anyway, there may be a potential argument that your criminal defense attorney can make to the Judge to get the evidence kicked out.

Moral of the story is, do not waive your chance at a fair defense.

Be courteous, but remember – Just Say No.

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