Ocala Criminal Defense Attorneys Choose the Powerful Defense of Dunham & Ingram

Do I Have to Let that Officer Search Me?

You’ve been pulled over – or an officer approaches you as you’re standing with some friends on the street. The officer asks “Hey man, do you mind if I search you?” Many people consent, or say yes, to that search because they’re not sure what to do. It’s awkward to say “No” to someone who is casually asking you a question. Plus you worry that it’ll make you look guilty.

First things first, you need to be comfortable politely saying “you do not have permission to search me.” You don’t need to be argumentative or rude, but you do need to assert your rights.

There are three levels of police encounters (as defined by case law). A consensual encounter means that you’re free to walk away from the officer or otherwise not follow his directions. An investigatory stop means that you can be detained. An arrest means that you’re in cuffs after some form of “investigation.” It’s important to know what kind of police encounter you’re having.

An investigatory stop is also known as a Terry Stop (this is based on the Terry v Ohio case that defined these stops). An officer may briefly detain an individual if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed or is committing a crime. The smell of marijuana, matching the description of a robbery suspect, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech…and more. You cannot walk away during an investigatory stop. But you can remain silent. Although you must give your name you don’t have to give any other information.

Confirm with the officer if you’re free to leave. Be polite. Remain silent. And afterwards call Dunham and Ingram to protect your rights.