Your Rights When the Police Want to Look Around
Should you let the police search your property without a warrant?
If a police officer asks to have a look around your property, it can feel uncomfortable to refuse. The police carry a great deal of authority, and telling them no can be scary. Still, you have rights that are worth protecting. Not only do you not have to give consent, but doing so can waive some of your rights later.
Constitutional Right to Privacy
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as a clause in the Wisconsin Constitution, protects against unreasonable searches and seizures of your property. This usually means that you have a right not to have your property searched without a warrant or probable cause.
While police officers have authority in many ways, they do not have a right to circumvent your constitutional rights. A police officer who asks to have a look at your property is attempting to circumvent those protections. You do not have to consent to him or her doing so.
Waiving Your Rights
Besides having a warrant, a police officer can be allowed to search your property if you grant permission for him or her to do so. You might think you have nothing to hide or no right to keep the police from searching your property, but letting them search without a warrant has the effect of waiving your right to protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Anything they find may then be admissible in court against you.
What if They Look Anyway?
Sometimes if you do not give permission, the police will try to search your property anyway. While you should not consent for them to do so, you also should not try to stop them. Fighting with a police officer will not go well for you; it can get you in separate legal trouble, and can become probable cause for them to look that they may not have had before.
If the police search your property without your consent or a warrant, you may be able to exclude any evidence they obtain. To help protect your rights, contact Eisenberg Law Offices, online or at 608-256-8356.