It can be very disarming when a police officer asks if they have your permission to enter your house or search your car. In most situations, it is the only time a police officer will ask you a question and wait for your answer before proceeding. In Indiana, a police officer needs your permission, a specific warrant or exigent circumstances must be present before searching your vehicle or house. So, when they ask: should you give them your permission?
In short: no! If a police officer does not have a warrant, you should not give them your consent to search your property. There are several reasons why this is the case, despite what your first instinct might be, but the primary reason is that you don’t have to. Without a warrant or exigent circumstances, a police officer can’t search your car, so you shouldn’t give them permission to.
Some people’s first instinct may be to give their permission for the search in order to look better in the eyes of the police officer or because they have “nothing to hide.” You still should refuse your consent for the search, because the simple truth is that you do not always actually know what is on your property.
If you have been driving friends around or had them over to your house, they could have left something you don’t know about. This is especially true if you have teenage children. Even if you think you know everything that is in your car or your house, you probably do not. Don’t give your consent for a search.
There are a few circumstances where a police officer can search your vehicle or home without getting your permission, otherwise known as exigent circumstances:
If they smell something. If the police officer smells marijuana in your property, or a trained K9 smells drugs, they can search your property without your consent. Humans can only smell marijuana, but trained K9s can smell many more controlled substances.
If there are extenuating circumstances. If the police officer believes you are being kidnapped or are in danger, they can search your property without your permission.
If you are in a meth lab. Since meth labs are highly flammable, if the police officer believes you are in one they can search without your permission.
If they believe someone is destroying evidence. If the police officer believes that someone is destroying evidence in your property, they can enter it at least to pull everyone out of the property, even if they may not have permission to search yet.
If they are arresting you. If a police officer is arresting you for an offense, they can search your person before they transport you to jail or place you in jail. They will likely do so for their safety concerns and to have an accounting of what valuables you had on you prior to going into the jail. They will also take an inventory of your vehicle if it is going to be towed due to your arrest.
If a police officer asks for your permission to search your property, it is always in your best interest to say no. For help with any criminal charges leveled against you, contact Blankenship Law today! Our phone lines at (317) 680-5528 in Carmel and (219) 300-6296 in Valparaiso are manned 24 hours a day. When your life is on the line, I’ve got your back!