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Consenting to a Search

Police officers have the right to search you, your home, or your vehicle if they have specific reasons to believe a crime is being committed. Without a reason, they are constitutionally forbidden from searching you. For that reason, they commonly ask citizens to consent to voluntary searches. But unless the officer directly orders you to leave the vehicle for a search, you do not have to consent.

In situations like traffic stops, it is not rare for police to ask to “have a look” in your vehicle. By getting citizens to consent to voluntary searches, police are able to bypass the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unlawful search and seizure. Even if you were not aware of anything suspicious in your vehicle, anything police find can be used against you. Illegal drugs a friend left in your vehicle, for example, could lead to a jail sentence for you.

The police may only search you or your person when they have “probable cause” to believe a crime is being committed. In generally, this means that officers must see evidence of a specific crime, such as an unidentified substance that could be illegal drugs. Vague suspicions, such as an officer disliking your appearance, are not fair grounds for a search.

Even during traffic stops and other relatively minor interactions with the police, it can be difficult to keep calm and remember your rights. Many people forget, or simply never learned, that they never have to consent to a voluntary search.

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If you have been the victim of an illegal search, you need legal assistance. The experienced Champaign criminal defense lawyers of Bruno Law Offices can help you successfully defend yourself. To learn more, contact the Champaign defense attorneys of Bruno Law Offices today by calling (217) 328-6000.

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