Have you ever been pulled over? How about asked about 10,000 random questions by a law enforcement officer? What about being asked to search your car? These questions can seem out of place—especially if you have done nothing wrong. Let this be a small reminder of your rights when asked, "Can I search your car?"
What You Can Do?
When an officer asks you if he or she can search your automobile, you have two choices: either let them search away, or like we used to hear in middle school regarding drugs, "just say no." Both are choices completely at your own disposal, and both are completely reasonable. If you say yes, and the officer searches your car—they may or may not find something incriminating. However, if you say no, they cannot search your car—plain and simple. Unless the police officer has probable cause or a warrant to search your car, the officer has to obey your answer.
What Should You Do?
If you find yourself in this situation, do NOT be afraid to say no to the search. The police officer may or may not ask you why or give you a weird look—however the fact remains, the law is on your side until you are convicted. You heard that correctly—remember you are innocent until proven guilty. Too many people automatically assume you HAVE to submit to the authority of the officer and to the search in order to prove to the officer that you have nothing to hide—guilty until proven innocent. There is absolutely nothing wrong with refusing the search because you know your rights. That being said—please do not think that this means you can defy or abuse your rights by not listening to an officer's questions. There is a time and a place to say "no," however police officers are public servants whose main job is to protect and serve the public. These individuals are to be respected and treated as such.
When you refuse the search, there are essentially no legal ramifications to you. The officer cannot search your car if you say no (assuming the officer does not have a warrant or probable cause to conduct the search). However, please remember that if you allow the officer to search your car, and they find something incriminating—you cannot change your mind. So the next time you are asked by a law enforcement officer to search your car—remember your rights. If you need assistance in a criminal defense matter, contact The Meranda Law Firm, LTD, to speak with a local Columbus criminal defense attorney. We will work diligently to get your case resolved in the utmost amicable manner.