Friday, September 16, 2011

Just say, "No! Get a warrant!"

   The #1 reason police are able to gather physical evidence against a person accused of a crime is, amazingly, that the accused person consents to a police search of their home, office or vehicle.
   People who are confronted by the police don’t realize they have the power to say “No! Get a warrant!” when a policeman asks to search their home, office or car.
   The Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution give a person confronted by police the absolute Constitutional right to say “No! Go get a warrant!”
   This is a hotly contested part of the law. The police get furious when the person says no, and they often yell, threaten the person with certain arrest and  increased punishment. A motorist will often be told, “Well, we’re gonna sit right here no matter how long it takes until we get that warrant...” As if inconveniencing the motorist is of no conern to the cop! 
   Keep in mind you are going to be arrested anyway. Cops don’t err on the side of letting people go. So, as you realize you’re going to be arrested anyway, don’t help the cops put you in prison.
   If you just say, “No! Get a warrant!” You will have a fighting chance at staying out of prison!
   Keep in mind there are exceptions to these Constitutional amendments that have been carved out by the courts but don’t worry about them. Let your lawyer worry about them.
   Here’s why: If you say no to a police search and the officers insist on searching anyway, that’s fine. You should not resist the officer beyond the emphatic saying of “No! Go get a warrant!” The point is to NOT consent to the search. After that, do what the cop says. Don’t fight the cop and make it worse.
   At that point, whatever the cop does is subject to legal scrutiny. If you say “No! Get a warrant!” and the cop searches anyway, the cop has now placed his search at issue in your criminal trial. He’s got to prove in a court of law that his search did NOT require a warrant!
   If you consent, the cop has nothing to prove. If you say, “No! Get a warrant!” then the cop has to prove he didn’t need one!
   Now it’s up to the court, the prosecutor and the criminal defense lawyer, to argue over whether the subsequent arrest and any evidence gathered as a result of the search is admissible in court. Oftentimes, the evidence is not.
   In short, if you say “No! Get a warrant!” You have given yourself ammunition to win your court case. You might lose the battle, i.e. get arrested, but you’ll have a much better chance of winning the war in court.

  (Required by Alabama law: No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than other lawyers.)

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