Never, Ever, Ever Consent to a Search by Police



Throughout my career as both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, I have been astonished as to how many people will agree to allow the police to search either their home or cars. I am always the most surprised by those who know they have contraband (illegal items such as drugs or weapons) in their possession but still consent to the search. I recall a case when I prosecuted with the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office where a young man who was hauling several kilos of cocaine consented to the search of his truck. Of course, the police found it and he confessed to carrying a load from one source to another, but I wondered at the time (even as a prosecutor) whether the police might have misunderstood, shall we say, his consent. But, no, they didn’t. He consented and it was tape recorded. The lad somehow thought that they would like him more, perhaps excuse his sins, if he cooperated. Sadly, that’s not at all how it works.


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I have had too many clients to count who firmly believed they had nothing in their possession that was illegal until after the police searched. It wasn’t that the police planted contraband; the clients simply didn’t know that possession of certain articles or having them in certain containers was illegal or they were unaware that another person had left something illegal in their home or vehicle. Did you know that carrying prescribed medication in one of those little plastic Sunday through Saturday containers that help you keep track of what you are to take each day is actually a misdemeanor offense (O.C.G.A. §16-13-21, O.C.G.A. §16-13-21 )? Under the law you must carry your prescription medication in its original container (i.e. the prescription bottle) or you’ve committed a crime. It doesn’t take much to get on the wrong side of the law and the last thing you want to do is help them along the way by agreeing to the search.


Our Constitution provides protection from unwarranted searches by government agencies of our persons, home and property. The law surrounding that protection is vast and candidly complicated. But one thing is clear: when you consent to a search of your person or property you’ve given up the protections provided you by both the United States and Georgia Constitutions. My job as a criminal defense attorney is to find all available defenses for you in your case. If you consent to the search of your house, person or car, you’ve effectively robbed me of a number of areas of opportunity to defend you – not all but most. I have achieved the dismissal of countless cases because the police failed to honor the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which protects people from unwarranted searches and seizures of their persons and property. Consent to such a search takes away the government’s responsibility to get a search warrant based on probable cause or to otherwise show they had probable cause to search at any given time


Police aren’t asking to search your possessions unless they have some reason to believe you are carrying something illegal. Their reasons may be completely baseless – total hunches in fact – but they are looking for a reason to arrest you, not to be your friend.  I can destroy the State’s case based on the police’s lack of sufficient reason to search but not if you consent to the search! This might seem like an obvious statement to most people, but my experience has taught me otherwise: do not consent to a police search especially when you know you are carrying something illegal. Currying favor doesn’t help. You will be arrested. You will be indicted and face a prison sentence for your possession of the illegal item – regardless of whether you were nice to the police.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for possession of drugs, trafficking in drugs or possession with intent to distribute drugs, please give me a call today for a free and confidential consultation. My number is 404-474-2531.

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