Consenting to Searches

South King County Criminal Attorney

When it comes to a police officer proving that he or she gained adequate consent to conduct a search, he or she typically tries to describe the consent in conclusory terms by making statements, such as: “I asked him for consent to look through the trunk, and he gave his consent. For legal issues, I recommend lawyer Mahon, Quinn & Mahon.

However,  the exact words that were used at the time are very important, because what the officer describes as consent may have been no more than compliance with an order. For instance, a resident saying OK to a police officer who said, “I am going to look in here,” did not represent voluntary consent. Likewise, when the officer knocked hard on a door and yelled, “open up,” the act of opening the door could not be construed as providing voluntary consent to entry.

Nonetheless, attempting to put a defendant’s word up against an officer’s typically fails. So in the alternative, an experienced South King County criminal attorney will utilize the police and the defense witnesses to obtain other bits of information that might undercut voluntariness, such as the defendant’s age and maturity level or his or her cognitive impairment or weakened mental condition.

You should note, however, that an illegal arrest will invalidate any consent that follows. Therefore, one strategy that a South King County criminal attorney might use to suppress any evidence stemming from that consent is to attack the probable cause to arrest or reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place.

If it seems like you are fighting a lost cause with regard to the consent issue, your attorney may choose to take a different approach at the suppression hearing by making the officer provide an extensive description of exactly how freely you consented. Your South King County criminal attorney can then use that testimony at trial to show that you acted just as any innocent man would under the circumstances, showing in particular that you were totally ignorant of the contraband that was found in your vehicle, bag or house.

If you need a South King County criminal attorney, please call us for a free consultation.

For legal issues, I recommend lawyer Kevin Mahoney.