In a recent interview, leading criminal defense attorney Edward La Rue, revealed why agreeing to a police search is what he refers to as, "committing legal suicide". —
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When asked to comment, La Rue said, “Consenting to a police search can be detrimental to your case before you even step foot inside a courtroom. This is true even if you are innocent and have nothing to hide.”
What much of the American public is unaware of, according to La Rue, is that saying “no” to a police search is a fundamental right.
“The 4th amendment of the US Constitution protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement must first obtain permission to search either you or your property – unless they have probable cause that a crime has been committed,” he said.
La Rue added that citizens should refuse searches in most public places except at a border checkpoint or a secure facility such as an airport.
In fact, he said, refusing a police search often works in someone’s favor in court.
“Let’s say that the police wanted to search you, but they didn’t have probable cause. You didn’t provide consent, but law enforcement searched you anyway. This will give your lawyer the upper hand in court, because the officers in charge will have to prove there was probable cause to carry out a search without a warrant,” he added.
Saying “no” to a police search can also, at times, prevent a search altogether.
When asked to explain, La Rue said, “Many people assume that if an officer asks for a search, they will do it no matter what you say. However, what I’ve observed from real police encounters, is that refusing searches works when the police have no probable cause to carry it out. Many officers assume that performing a search that won’t hold up in court is a waste of time.”
On the other hand, the police will be allowed to produce evidence that could wreak havoc in cases where the client consented to the search.
“Even if you’re positive that you have nothing to hide in your car or home, there’s a chance that an illegal substance could have entered your property without your knowledge. For instance, a friend that you gave a lift could have been carrying a baggie that fell out in the backseat of your car.”
“But even if the police do find something on your property and you didn’t consent to a search, then your lawyer could still challenge whatever evidence law enforcement claims to have against you,” La Rue added.
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