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Consent to Search for Drugs May Be Inferred By Police

As criminal defense lawyers in Jacksonville, Florida, we handle a lot of drug cases of all kinds. In many of them, the police ask someone to search their home, vehicle or person and find the illegal drugs. After the person is arrested and comes to discuss their case with us, we always inform him/her about the Constitutional right to refuse any police request to search anything belonging to them.

If a police officer asks you if he/she can search you, your vehicle, your bag, your home or anything else you own or possess, it is important to politely but clearly say no if you do not want him/her to conduct the search. Courts in Florida have allowed searches where the suspect did not affirmatively agree to the search but made some gesture indicating the search may be authorized. For example, in one case, police came to an apartment to search it for drugs, and the suspect answered the door. When the police officer asked to search the apartment for illegal drugs, the suspect did not consent, but he did move out of the way so the police could enter. The Florida court did find this search to be valid. In another case, police asked a suspect if they could search his person. The suspect did not agree but held up his hands and spread his feet. This search was also determined to be valid.

It is very important to understand that police in Florida do not necessarily have a right to search anyone or anything that you own or possess without a search warrant. If a police officer asks you for consent to search, you have a right to politely refuse. If you do not make your refusal clear, it could be interpreted as consent and the resulting search may be upheld in court.