Do You Have to Submit to a Search If Asked by a Police Officer?

Posted on

When an ordinary member of the public has an interaction with a police officer, this is normally handled with professionalism and in full accordance with the law. However, sometimes this is not the case, and an officer can be found to have acted incorrectly, with significant consequences. What are your specific rights if you feel that you have been on the wrong side of such interaction during a search?

Different Scenarios

As officers attempt to look after the public and cut down on crime, they may often ask an individual person to submit to a search. If you happen to be approached by such an officer with this request, you will, of course, have two options. You can either consent or refuse to this search and should be wary of the particular circumstances.

Powers to Search

Remember, an officer must have a specific reason to ask you to submit to a search. They do have certain powers under the various law enforcement acts but will only have a few reasons to conduct a search without your consent. In particular, they must have good reason to believe that you have something in your possession that may have been stolen or something that you might intend to use in a criminal act. Alternatively, they may be able to search you anyway if they suspect that you have drugs in your possession, and this is especially so if you happen to be in an area that is well known for illegal activity.

In Discussion

Always ask the officer for their reasons. They must give you a clear response, and this will enable you to make your decision. Make sure that you take down the name of the officer together with their rank and local station, and if need be, you can ask to speak to their supervisor first before going ahead.

Reasonable Suspicion

It's important to remember that a warrantless search can only be justified if the officer has "reasonable suspicion." Make sure that you take a mental note of the entire conversation and everything that happens during your interaction.

What You Should Do

If the officer insists on conducting a search but you do not give consent, you should still remain calm and not resist. Otherwise, the officer could generate a further charge related to obstruction.

Expert Advice

You may feel that the officer does not have the right to search you, but it is best to comply and talk with a criminal lawyer afterwards. The solicitor will be able to determine the legality of the search and advise you about any further action.