I was a police officer for twenty-five years and made hundreds of car stops and completed quite a few searches, so listen to this retired patrol commander:
In the simplest of terms, if a police officer asks your permission to do something, they are not allowed to do this thing without your permission or consent.
Just say the words, I do not consent to a search without a warrant.
The law gives the police broad powers to do many things, such as stop based on reasonable suspicion and arrest based on probable cause. In addition, they can seize property with a warrant or without a warrant if it is contraband and is in plain view.
Given all these things that the police are given the right and duty to do, doesn’t it seem odd that they would ask your permission to do something they are not allowed to do without your consent?
In the case of a search, whether it is your car, your home, or your briefcase, the police officer is not looking for evidence to exonerate you from some crime; they are looking for evidence to charge you with a crime. Therefore, I do not consent to a search without a warrant.
If the officer needs to search your car, the officer can apply for a search warrant. This, in many cases, can be done over the telephone; This is called a telephonic search warrant. If, on the other hand, the officer is on a hunting and fishing expedition, then they should fish somewhere else; this lake is closed!
It’s not possible that allowing a search will somehow help you. Yes, you indeed have nothing to hide. But the officer should also have nothing to hide by putting the reason for the search in writing and getting a judge to approve it. I do not consent to a search without a warrant.
Please be advised that an officer may search your vehicle if they have the proper level of proof which is usually probable cause or one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement. Say NO to any request for a consent search, but never resist an officer if they decide to search anyway. If your rights are violated you will have time to take legal recourse against the officer and agency in court.
– James Filippello