Most people do not fully understand their rights. Many do not know whether they have to consent to a search. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is hard for many lawyers. When I was in law school, I had a teacher that taught us a way to analyze fourth amendment issues. This framework started with a simple question. Has some event triggered the Fourth Amendment? So, is the Fourth Amendment triggered if a person consents to a search?
The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. Most of the time, it is clear what happens. The police stop a person or enter their houses. Other times, the police will ask if it is OK to search someone.
Dallas police have taken this lesson in their efforts to enforce drug laws. Once the person consents to a search they are free to investigate any crimes. It is called the knock and talk taskforce. It is exactly what it sounds like. Officers get a tip. They proceed to the location of the tip and are very nice. The police officers ask a person to voluntarily let them search.
Can the police search someone after he or she consents to a search? If the person consents to a search, the police can conduct a search. It does not matter that the search was unreasonable. The Fourth Amendment is not triggered if a person consents to a search. There are no Constitutional protections.
The nice approach is not going to replace the current buy bust format that many plice departments use. Instead, it appears this is just a less commonly used tool in the police officer’s bag of tricks with a new use. It is important to remember that police need probable cause to perform a search. Most times they will need to get a warrant. This does not matter if a person consents to the search. Many people fear that they will look guilty if they do not consent. However, the police will perform a consensual search, and find contraband.
Because the Fourth Amendment is so complex, this information will not comply to many people’s individual situation. If you have questions about a stop you were involved in, contact a defense attorney