How to Handle Search and Seizures
Search and Seizures can be nerve wracking, especially if you don’t know your rights. Officers can easily intimidate a person and control the situation. It’s only in your best benefit to know your do’s and don’ts during these unforeseen incidents. The purpose of this article is to equip you with the proper knowledge to handle any situation you go through. This can protect you from illegal searches or from an officer encroaching on your personal rights. Follow these steps to properly handle a search and seizure.
Remember to always stay calm because you know your rights. An officer must have probable cause to search your person, vehicle, or home. Probable Cause means reasonable grounds to search you. An officer can not merely perform a search and seizure out of desire. The facts and circumstances present must be grounds enough to reasonably infer illegal action is at play.
Document the Encounter
Whether it be you or someone else with you, pull out your phone and record the incident. If there is a video account of what happened, then there can be no question of what occurred later on. This protects you and prevents an officer from fabricating facts or violating your rights. You are entitled to record the event.
After the officer asks if he can search your body, ask him if you can leave. Proper questions include:
- Am I being detained?
- Am I free to go?
- Am I under arrest?
If the officer can not confirm any of these then you are free to go, if he does confirm them then request ,“On what grounds am I being detained or arrested?”.
Let the officer know that you do not consent
Tell the officer explicitly that you do not consent to him searching your body or your property. Officers are trained to lead you to believe that they can search you without your consent but this is not true. You have the right to deny their request if there is no probable cause. You should always remain cooperative, but still stand your ground and know your rights.
If the officer searches you and discovers either illegal contraband, paraphernalia, or some other illegal item on you, do not say anything. Instead, tell the officer you are choosing to remain silent and that you would like a lawyer. These exact words have ultimately been found to help people out in the end. Remember less is more, you don’t want to say something self incriminating on accident, it’s best just to say nothing. These rules will help protect yourself and will help your attorney better defend you if you are caught in an unfortunate situation. If you have anymore questions feel free to contact the Nazarian Law Firm.