Friday, September 20, 2019

Legal Questions: Do I Have to Consent to a Search?

There are many reasons why you may be seeing those flashing lights in your review mirror - going over the speed limit, not having your headlights on, or even erratic driving. For many individuals getting pulled over will result in an officer asking for your driver’s license and proof of insurance, and afterward, they will give you a warning or a ticket and you’ll be on your way. For some, however, the officer may investigate further. The topic is rather complicated, but a probable cause can definitely play a role in the situation. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

What is Probable Cause?

The definition of probable cause is when there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed or when evidence of the crime is present in the place to be searched.

This can be a tricky notion, but remember that having a lawyer to represent you after the fact can be extremely important. In some cases, if the officer searches your vehicle without probable cause, there’s a chance that anything found could be dismissed in court - but this is all dependent on the situation and having a Missouri lawyer representing you is crucial.

What Counts as Probable Cause?

This is actually a complicated legal matter that is debated among legal professionals. In many cases, it’s going to be up to the officer in question - as it could only require a smell or sight of contraband.

Just remember that an officer does not need a warrant to search a person’s car because there is an automobile exception. Even if an officer has probable cause, they may still ask permission so that they won’t have to handle the search being challenged in court later.

Right to Refuse

The 4th Amendment does provide you the right to politely refuse a search. This situation will be up to you, though. If you feel that they do not have probable cause, and an officer requests permission to look in your car, you have the right to refuse. 

Remain Respectful

If you are flagged down by an officer, you should pull over safely and as fast as possible. As with any case involving someone in charge, remain respectful, polite, and calm.


Do you have questions about how to handle this situation? Or perhaps you have had your vehicle searched without permission? Or maybe you consented to a search because you were uncertain about the appropriate response and you need legal protection at the Lake of the Ozarks. Whatever your reason, Gibbons Law Firm offers FREE consultations. Give us a call at 573-348-2211, we would be glad to talk to you about your situation and help you move forward with legal protection.

Remember, your initial consultation with Gibbons Law Firm is always free.

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Gibbons Law Firm
2820 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Suite B4
Lake Ozark, MO 65049

(573) 348-2211

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