The Courier's Guide to Police Searches

by Officer Bob

Hello again, Boys and Girls. In todays episode we are going to take a look at police searches. Remember, what you don't know can get you busted.

As a citizen, who minds your own business, and doesn't break the law, (or at least not that often, and never the really important ones) you probably don't have to worry about being searched. But for you criminals out there; you drug pushers, thieves, robbers, etc. Listen up!

The most common place to be searched is in your vehicle because that is the site of most police encounters. Now, any ordinary contact with a officer of the law shouldn't result in a search, but they often do. Especially if you do something to arose suspicion.

The first type of search you should know about is the Officer Safety Search. Any policeman can search the area directly accessible to you while you are seated in your car without your consent or probable cause. So if your carrying, don't keep it in arms reach (this includes the glove box and under the seat.)

But the search must stop there unless the officer has "Probable Cause." Probable Cause means that the officer has enough evidence that you may be breaking the law to override your constitutional right not to be searched. If a police office does not have probable cause or your consent, then anything that they find can not be used as evidence against you.

A police officer can claim probable cause for any of the following reasons: (1) if you have any illegal, or controlled substance in plain view, or any paraphernalia commonly associated with such things (this includes rolling papers and plastic baggies), (2) You make any unusual movement, such as a quick movement to the glove compartment or under the seat, (3) any unusual odor is emanating from the car (such as marijuana, etc.), or (4) the police officer obtains information that you may be breaking the law through a confidential informant or a police dog.

Okay, so say you're pulled over by a policeman while in possession of an illegal substance. The officer may ask you if they can search you car. Warning: If you say yes, then they will find it, and you will go to jail, but fortunately you still have the constitutional right to refuse a search. However, if the officer really wants to search your car, they can call out a sniff dog. If that dog barks from outside the car, then they can search. So you have to play it off smooth. You can't arose any suspicion. Generally you should offer something along the lines of "Sorry, but I don't really have the time. I need to get to a very important meeting." Most likely they will simply say: "Okay, have a nice afternoon."

If you do consent to a search and the officer gets too close for comfort, you can call the search off at any time and they must immediately stop. If they don't then none of the evidence will stand up in court because it was obtained by an illegal search.

Of course, the best thing is to not get pulled over in the first place. But if you do, then just play it cool and remember your rights. If you keep these things in mind and before you drive off and you should be able to avoid any unnecessary trips to the pokey.

The Dial
PO Box 830
Dallas, TX 75238-4812
Samples for $1

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