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Detroit Legal Blog

How To Refuse Consent for a Police Search

Jan 06, 2022, by Maurice Davis in Criminal Defense
Police officer handcuffing man

Even people who’ve done nothing wrong find themselves feeling nervous in the presence of law enforcement. You probably want to appear helpful and cooperative, but what is the cost, and are you putting yourself in harm’s way? When the police attempt to search you or your property, you should understand your rights and how to handle the situation.

Here is more about how search warrants work in Michigan and properly refuse consenting to a police search. To protect your rights in this situation and avoid any possible illegal search and seizures, it’s always best to contact a criminal defense lawyer.

Search Warrants in Michigan

You may be surprised to learn how often a criminal case relies on evidence obtained during police searches. When these searches utilize a search warrant, law enforcement should follow strict requirements in obtaining and executing this official permission to search you or your property.

Search warrants are often particular and can be broad to include a wide array of areas or very detailed depending on the circumstances. First, for police to obtain a search warrant in Michigan, they must first show a judge there is probable cause to warrant the search of you, your vehicle, your home, or other property.

If the judge believes that police are likely to find the items they hope to discover, their search warrant request may be granted. If the judge does not believe certain things will be found, law enforcement’s request may be denied.

If the search warrant requirements were not met and law enforcement violated your Fourth Amendment rights through illegal search and seizure, any evidence obtained during this search may be considered inadmissible at a jury trial against you.

Refusing Police Searches in Michigan

There are many situations where you have the right to refuse a police search. Unless police have a search warrant, you may have every right to deny their request. Many people find themselves being pressured by police, as they will often go to great lengths to persuade you to give your consent to search.

Remember, to obtain a search warrant; law enforcement must provide probable cause. If they had probable cause to search your home, they would tell you by searching your home legally with or without your permission.

The Right to Withdraw Consent

It is more common than you might think for people to wonder whether they have the right to withdraw consent after having given consent to search their property, person, or home. You do have the right to withdraw consent by saying something as simple as “I am withdrawing my consent for this search.”

Limiting the Extent of the Search

If you consent to a search, you have the right to limit your search to a specific set of items, a specific area, or otherwise. You must make clear your intent to restrict the search.

For example, if you consent to a search for a stolen weapon, police would not have the right to start reading your personal papers that may be lying around during the search.

When You Can’t Refuse a Police Search

Unfortunately, once the police have a search warrant, they can search your personal property as the warrant describes. But there are situations where officers may search without a warrant. These include:

  • Plain view or plain smell – When law enforcement smells or sees something drug or crime-related in plain sight.
  • Search incident to arrest – When police arrest you in your home or by your vehicle, they may conduct a “Wingspan” search to ensure no weapons are present that may harm police.
  • When visiting a prison – You do not have the right to withdraw consent to a search once you have started the search process before a prison visit.
  • During an administrative search – If you were arrested, police might perform a search of your property to determine whether there is other incriminating evidence present in the same area.
  • When evidence is found against you, you do not have the right to withdraw your consent once police find incriminating evidence. Although you have the right to withdraw consent, anything police find before consent is withdrawn can be used.
  • The automobile exception – When you have been pulled over for any type of suspected traffic infraction or crime, police may have the right to search your vehicle if they argue probable cause, even if they do not have a search warrant.
  • During airport screenings – As you are being screened through airport security, you do not have the right to withdraw consent for a search, even if airport security has not found anything incriminating.

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer ASAP

If you have questions about a police search, have been charged with a crime, or suspect that an illegal search and seizure by police has occurred, reach out to an attorney. When your rights are violated, you may be able to suppress the inappropriately collected evidence and mitigate the negative impact

To discuss what happened and how to protect your rights, contact a Detroit defense attorney at the Davis Law Group. We’ll tirelessly advocate for you, and if inadmissible evidence is being used, we’ll help you address it.

Call 313-818-3238 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.