The 4th amendment to the United States Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures from law enforcement. This means that it’s very limited and there must be legal justification and specific rules before you can be searched or seized. One of the issues with this is that often times, our clients provide consent to law enforcement officers to be searched and the problem is, they’re not even realizing they’re providing consent. The reason for this, is because of the way they have a conversation with a law enforcement officer. A law enforcement officer will say something to the effect of “Do you mind if I have a look around in here?” or “You don’t have anything to hide that I should worry about, right?” And people assume that the law enforcement officer is searching, has some sort of probable cause, or is giving them a command. The problem with that is, the examples I gave – those are questions. Those were questions that person could’ve said no to. More specifically, the best thing to do in a situation like this, would be to say “I don’t consent to any searches!” We never suggest ignoring a command of a law enforcement officer nor resisting. But it’s ok to clarify and ask “Am I being seized?” “Am I free to leave?” Being investigated for a crime is an extremely stressful situation. What makes things worse, is helping law enforcement build a case against you. That’s not something you ever want to do. This is why, generally speaking, most criminal defense attorneys suggest that you just, don’t say anything. Don’t consent to any searches. Exercise your right to remain silent and contact an attorney. If you have been charged with a crime in North Carolina or South Carolina and are seeking representation, contact us.
4th Amendment – Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
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