Should I allow police to search my car or home?

You may be just hanging out at home on a Saturday afternoon watching TV. Then, you hear a loud knock at the door. It’s the police and they want to search your home because they received a tip you may be dealing meth. Or, police pull you over because you’re speeding on your way home from a late-night party. The officer asks to search your vehicle, to ensure you don’t have drugs. Should you say yes and allow a police search?

How to handle an interaction with police

If police stop you in your vehicle and ask to conduct a search, you can politely decline. You can do the same if police ask to search your home without a warrant. However, if police see drug paraphernalia on your car’s passenger seat, they have probable cause to search your vehicle. Or if you fail a field sobriety test and they believe you are driving while under the influence of drugs, they also likely have probable cause to search your vehicle.

Police can’t search your home without a warrant. However, they can search it if a roommate allows them to. If police have a warrant, it should specify exactly what they plan to search.

In any interaction with police, you also need to remember that you don’t have to answer their questions. You can politely invoke your right to remain silent. If you answer questions at a traffic stop, you could give officers probable cause to search your vehicle. If officers find drugs in a vehicle or home search, anything you say to officers could become evidence in the case against you.

Getting help after an arrest

If police find drugs in your car or home and arrest you, you need to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can present a defense against the drug charges you face and work to have your charges reduced or dismissed. You may not realize police didn’t follow proper protocols in your arrest or that you can get potential penalties for a drug arrest reduced.

You always need to stay calm and treat police officers with respect. You also can stand up for your rights by declining a voluntary search, declining to answer police questions and getting an attorney’s help if you need it.