Posted on Jul 8, 2015
SSG Physical Security Nco
17.8K
294
82
22
22
0
Years ago when I was 16 years old (I am 38 now) I closed at a store I was working. I drove an older friend home that lived somewhere that took us on a dirt road. My friend was in his early 20's, he had long hair, tattoos, and he played in a rock band. A sheriff's deputy initiated a traffic stop on my vehicle past midnight. I do not recall making any traffic code infractions and my car was in total compliance of the law. The deputy did not state his probable cause, and I did not know any better to ask. My friend knew, but he didn't want to advise me as it might arise to further interaction with the deputy. The deputy requested to search my car. I felt compelled to answer yes for I feared I would go to jail, or I would be out there longer in the middle of nowhere. The deputy found nothing as there was nothing, and he released us. My friend told me the deputy thought we had drugs as he was guessing due to his long hair and tattoos.

My advice: DO NOT CONSENT TO SEARCH and after you refuse, ask the police officer politely for their probable cause.

Some of you might know already, I am an MP and I have conducted over a thousand traffic stops. I have treated people with the utmost respect, and I acted under the color of the law with every motorist. I want to share my experiences with fellow SMs and veterans.

If you do consent to a search, know your car. First, is it your car? During my experience, people who consented to a search or received a traffic stop from me did not know anything about the vehicle they were operating. Do you remember that camping trip from two weeks ago? Did you leave the knives for cutting fish under the seat? Remember, if you are operating, you are responsible for the registration, the insurance and any item in that vehicle.

As some of you already know, just because someone is a police officer, it does not mean they are a good person. Police have been known to plant evidence. Counties get money from court fees and fines so remember that. Consider recording your interactions with the police because they will record their interaction with you. There are other ways for a police officer to search you care without consent so if you want to know, just ask.

Do you have any experiences to share or questions to ask?
Posted in these groups: Military_police_regimental_insignia 31B: Military Police039676ce0a0d028a0130c8e92856985b Police
Edited >1 y ago
Avatar_feed
See Results
Responses: 32
Cpl Jeff N.
18
18
0
Edited >1 y ago
Never consent to anything...It is similar to volunteering in the military, don't do it.

Once you consent, anything they find can be a cause for arrest/fine. Even if you didn't know it was in the car. My response would be, "no thanks, I will not consent". When they use the old "why do you have something to hide". I would say, "I have nothing to gain in you searching my vehicle".
(18)
Comment
(0)
SSG Physical Security Nco
SSG (Join to see)
>1 y
Cpl Jeff N., You are also can halt the search as well unless you are out of view of your car and you can't be heard.
(5)
Reply
(0)
Cpl Jeff N.
Cpl Jeff N.
>1 y
I think they like to separate you from the vehicle once you consent for that very reason. The best thing to do is never consent.
(7)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small
SGT Contracting Nco
15
15
0
Edited >1 y ago
As a licensed attorney, I would tell you NEVER consent to a search, NEVER give a statement, and NEVER waive your right to counsel. It doesn't matter if you have something to hide or not. There are numerous examples of people being implicated by things left behind by passengers or previous owners. And, law enforcement is NEVER your friend. So, you gain NOTHING by trying to cooperate to "clear" things up. I wouldn't ask the officer about probable cause or get into any sort of legal argument with them. Just politely tell them that you have friends who are attorneys and they've always told you that AS A GENERAL RULE you should never consent, but you're aware that they may not need your consent and you will respectfully comply with any orders/instructions they give. You might be surprised how often a simple statement like that results in an officer shrugging and saying, "Fair enough. Have a good day."
(15)
Comment
(0)
SMSgt Lawrence McCarter
SMSgt Lawrence McCarter
4 y
I've always made it My policy as a Police Officer to start by telling someone I've pulled over for any infraction why i pulled them over before i even ask for license, Registration or anything. i fell that have a right to know and they shouldn't have to ask. There are circumstances under which even without consent You can make a limited search for weapons in the interest of protecting Yourself and others. That search would have to be limited to places they could actually reach from their current location. ii example that would not include the trunk if they were for example sitting in the drivers seat or interior car compartment. Other searches if made would have to start with a reasonable suspicion of a crime but the first contact wold have to be for a legitimate reason otherwise whatever evidence found may not be admitted in Court If at one point the case become poisoned with and illegal search then anything else found as a result of that would also be considered the Fruits of the poisoned tree and also not admitted as evidence. If however You were arrest of a legitimate offense and a Department has a police of an inventory of the contents of every car the Police themselves order towed then anything they find can be used against You. If the town wasn't police mandated and You had requested the town then that would not apply. If You make the mistake of giving consent to search of course the results may not be good if You do have something to hide and You just made it easy for the Police. Also you may want to read the Post by Sgt William Howell here, He also makes some good points and i don't want to repeat what He already said.
(4)
Reply
(0)
SGT Shannon Weaver Logan
SGT Shannon Weaver Logan
>1 y
Whenever I was on a traffice stop I would tell them my name and tell them why I stopped them. Then I would get their license, and insurance. If I ever needed to search a car I alsway called for my shift supervisor to come out. As far as I know they have to have a reason and they are suppose to tell you why they are searching your vehicle.
(0)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small
SGT William Howell
13
13
0
While I agree with you as far as not consenting to a search, I think you are a little off on your search and seizure. Lawyers have classes that they attend for an entire semester just on this and you really have to be up on this.

Was was an MP in the Guard, Active Duty and a full time police officer. I am a fully qualified interdiction officer and have seized almost a million dollars in illegal drugs and money.

So you actually have a seizure and a search lumped into one traffic stop.

A traffic stop is a seizure. You are not allowed to leave therefore your person has been seized. The courts have ruled that with traffic stop you do not need probable cause, just reasonable suspicion. Probable cause means more probable than not that a crime has been committed. Reasonable suspicion means that you can articulate that you think a crime may have occurred. There is a big difference in a court of law. So crossing the yellow line can be all you need to effect a traffic stop. You still have to have probable cause to write a ticket or make an arrest. Because you are not allowed to leave now Miranda comes into effect and you do not have to answer any questions the police officer may ask you, as he may use any statements you give as evidence of a crime. You do still have to provide licenses, registration, and proof of insurance. You must also exit the vehicle if the police officer ask you to. These are are things that are based off case law and are accepted in any court as the lawful request.

The search is where it gets tricky. So you are on a traffic stop, your person is still seized or in layman's terms, you can't leave. A police officer CAN'T and shouldn't ask you to search your car while you are still not free to leave. That is coercion or, in English, that the seized party feels like they must submit to the search because the police officer is holding them at the traffic stop. He must make it clear that you are free to leave. I always wrote a ticket or a warning then hand it to them and say, "You are free to leave." Now that they understand they are free to leave I would ask for consent to search the car. You now have the right to say, "No" or "Yes".

If you say no, then the officer has the right, by law, to seize your person again and call a dog out. Again, the police officer must have reasonable suspicion to seize you again and that a crime may have occurred and be able to articulate that in court. If a dog does come he can only sniff around the car, not in the car, but if he hits on the car that is probable cause and now they can search all they want.

If you say yes, then you can set the ground rules as to where he can search. You can say that he can't search the trunk and he must abide by those guidelines.

If you are pulled over and are asked to consent to search the first question I would ask is, "Am I free to leave?" If he says "yes". then tell him you don't consent and to have a nice day and drive off. If he says "no", then you still tell him you don't consent and let him do what ever he is gong to do. Any lawyer with a night school degree should be able to suppress anything found in the car. I can't emphasize this enough. Just because you believe the search is illegal you don't have the right to interfere with the police officer. Take it to court and if it is suppressed then you can seek a civil judgment in a lawsuit.

I could go on for days about searching movable property vs. residence, who can consent, plain sight, search incident to arrest, and so on. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.
(13)
Comment
(0)
MSG Floyd Williams
MSG Floyd Williams
>1 y
Lol, I didn't know what happen it went way over my head!
(1)
Reply
(0)
MSG Kennel Master
MSG (Join to see)
>1 y
SGT William Howell - I think you and I are on the same page when it comes to reasonable suspicion and use of a K-9. However, the SCOTUS recently ruled that extending a traffic stop beyond the time it takes to complete your "traffic based inquiries" if unlawful. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/13-9972_p8k0.pdf
(2)
Reply
(0)
SGT William Howell
SGT William Howell
>1 y
MSG (Join to see) Excellent post. I was not aware there is new case law on this. I see this as a bit of a setback in interdiction work. I think you could adjust and still use a dog. You just now have to get the dog there while you are writing the ticket. I see somebody using Terry as an argument in the future, but it looks for now that unless the driver consents there is not a lot that can be done if you don't have a K-9 in your back pocket.
(2)
Reply
(0)
1SG John Millan
1SG John Millan
2 y
ALWAYS give them their license and papers back and say thanks, you are free to go, BEFORE you ask for consent. THEN, it is truly free, willing and informed with no reasonable argument of coercion.
(0)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small

Join nearly 2 million former and current members of the US military, just like you.

close