Consent Search Lawyers
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What Is a Consent Search?
A consent search is a type of police search wherein the suspect agrees to have their person or property searched. This is one of the most basic forms of the warrantless search exception, meaning that police don’t need a warrant to conduct a search if the person consents. Various other warrantless search exceptions exist, such as during an emergency situation or if there is danger that the evidence will be destroyed.
Without a person’s consent, the police need a search warrant to search for evidence in areas or in property wherein a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. This can include places and spaces such as:
- Homes, especially bedrooms and living quarters
- Certain parts of a motor vehicle, especially areas that are locked or locked containers found in the car
- Certain electronic documents such as e-mails
What Are the Requirements for a Valid Consent Search?
In order for a person to validly consent to a search, the consent needs to be:
- Clear and unambiguous (i.e., "I am revoking my 4th amendment rights")
- Done willfully and not under compulsion
Thus, for instance, if a person is about to be searched, they may make a statement indicating that they consent to the search. This then gives the police the right to search the person, even if the police officer or officers did not have a search warrant to do so.
Can Consent to a Search be Revoked?
Yes- a person can revoke their consent to a search at any time after they have already consented to a search. Again, this needs to be done clearly and must be communicated to the police officers. For instance, the person might say, "That’s enough, I’m revoking my consent to your search, please stop." You should not that the revocation needs to be an affirmative withdrawal of their previous consent, rather than a vague disapproval or negative comments regarding the search.
On the other hand, there are certain situations when consent cannot be revoked once it has been given. This applies to very limited circumstances, such as when a prisoner has consented to a search of their cell.
Improper or unreasonable police searches will result in the property being excluded from the evidentiary records in the upcoming criminal trial.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Consent Searches?
Consent searches can often involve some very complex laws of criminal procedure. It’s in your best interests to hire a qualified lawyer if you need assistance with any type of consent search issue or other criminal matters. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and guidance on the matters, and will be able to represent your rights during criminal trial stages.
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Last Modified: 01-28-2014 03:51 PM PST
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