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Vehicle Consent Searches

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  • Vehicle Consent Searches

    My understanding of consent searches it that an Officer needs RS to ask for consent when searching a vehicle.
    http://www.erowid.org/freedom/courts...comment1.shtml
    That, uses the term "state law enforcement officer." Does that imply only Troops need RS to ask for consent, or does it apply to all law enforcement officers statewide?
    Second, does this apply only to traffic-related stops, or is the ban on "baseless" consent searches expand to walk-ups and the like?
    Thanks.

  • #2
    Reasonable suspicion is needed to ask for consent to conduct a search of a motor vehicle. You need to be able to articulate the reason you asked for consent. Keep in mind that plain view trumps reasonable suspicion. This applies to all LE officers in the state.

    I’m not sure what you meant by your other question. Can you clarify the second part?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by sigcopper View Post
      Reasonable suspicion is needed to ask for consent to conduct a search of a motor vehicle. You need to be able to articulate the reason you asked for consent. Keep in mind that plain view trumps reasonable suspicion. This applies to all LE officers in the state.

      I’m not sure what you meant by your other question. Can you clarify the second part?
      Perfect, thank you.
      If you are walking around, say, a downtown area, and strike up a conversation with someone. Through the talking, something does not seem right. Can you ask to search their person (or their bag, etc) out of the blue, or do you have to have RS?

      Comment


      • #4
        My understanding is that State v. Fort applies only to vehicle searches. Terry v. Ohio allows warrantless, nonconsensual sweeps for weapons (ie, a limited search), based on reasonable suspicion.

        For example, "I saw Joe Smith standing in a dark corner of an alley, and he was wearing a long-sleeved hooded sweatshirt and long pants, but the temperature was 85 degrees with 70 percent humidity" might be enough RS to justify a stop.

        After conducting a Terry frisk, you may or may not find something to justify expanding the scope of your search.

        But you knew all that...

        As far as I know, you could still ask someone for consent to look in their bag, etc. But you should still be sure to document why something wasn't right--not just "saw drunk, arrested same".
        "All government agencies, whether they be police, fire, sanitation, parks, etc., operate on a budget. That budget provides funding for them to employ a specific number of people. The can't just add someone to their staff because he speaks three languages or has a neat haircut."

        Comment


        • #5
          Frisking or a "patdown" is a search of a person's outer clothing wherein a police officer or other law enforcement agent runs his or her hands along the outer garments to detect any concealed weapons or other contraband.

          In the case of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), the Supreme Court of the United States held that police have the ability to do a limited search for weapons of areas within the suspect’s control based on a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the person stopped was "armed or dangerous" and had been, is, or was about to engage in a criminal act. The type of frisk authorized by this decision has become known as a Terry stop and frisk or simply Terry stop.

          A Terry stop has two parts: the stop and the frisk. When Terry stopping someone, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity has, is, or is about to be, committed. During the course of the law enforcement agent's stop, if the officer feels that the suspect is in possession of a weapon that is of danger to him or others, he may conduct a patdown of the suspect's outer clothing garments to search for weapons. For the frisk to be constitutional, the officer must testify that he conducted a patdown for his personal safety, or the safety of others in the area. Pursuant to the "plain feel" doctrine, police may seize not only weapons discovered in a Terry stop but also contraband when the contraband nature of such is immediately apparent to the officer. An officer may not, however, seize such contraband if its identity is not immediately apparent to the officer upon administering the frisking.

          Comment


          • #6
            Okay, that makes sense. Thank you both.
            from MN v. Fort
            "...we conclude that in the absence of reasonable, articulable suspicion a consent-based search obtained by exploitation of a routine traffic stop that exceeds the scope of the stop's underlying justification is invalid."
            Since they do not say anything about consensual non-vehicle based contacts, is it safe to say that there are no restrictions on asking for consent to search, even in the absence of RS?

            Comment


            • #7
              Under normal circumstances, I'd venture to guess that you would be able to articulate why you asked to search somebody. For instance, you wouldn't ask a 80 year old granny to search her handbag at 10 a.m. but on the other hand you come across a kid at night in an area that has been hit with spray painting and he had a backpack. That would be your RS to conduct a pat down for weapons while you are dealing with him. Which with good police work would lead to other things.

              One I always use and it has been held up in court even in one of my cases was when I had a kid that kept sticking his hands in his pockets even after I asked him to stop. Through my training and experience, I know that those that have assaulted the police in the past have had weapons in their pockets and will adjust that weapon so if needed it can be pulled on the officer. Kids (young adults) will always stick their hands in their pockets. After asked not to and they do it again it is a pat down search for weapons which, at times, will lead to other goodies. Another thing you need to remember is that you can't manipulate that object that you feel. You need to know when you conducted that pat down that the object you felt was a bag of something or it was a pipe or what have you. You can not move it around and feel it up before you guess what it is. When the report is written you need to do an good job explaining your actions.

              Comment


              • #8
                All I can say is...don't get too hung up on what "the book" says you can and can't do, because in the "real world", sh-- doesn't work like that all the time.
                It's better to be tried by twelve than carried by six...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Much thanks, sigcopper!
                  And Ten10, that is true. I like to have the basal book knowledge, because at this point, the more I can learn, the better off I will be later on...in the real world.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I was in a drug interdiction class last spring with a couple MN coppers (some suburb in the metro, don't remember name). They told the instructor they needed Probable Cause in MN to even ask for consent... Does that make sense? Has any MN LEO heard of this?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by lewy15 View Post
                      I was in a drug interdiction class last spring with a couple MN coppers (some suburb in the metro, don't remember name). They told the instructor they needed Probable Cause in MN to even ask for consent... Does that make sense? Has any MN LEO heard of this?
                      No, we need reasonable suspicion to ask for a consent search. If I had probable cause, I would not need the consent.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        With probable cause to believe seizable evidence or
                        contraband is concealed in a vehicle capable of mobility, an
                        officer may search that vehicle without a warrant. And that
                        officer may search anywhere, and/or open any container, to
                        which the probable cause extends, wherein the object of the
                        search could logically be concealed in the vehicle. This is known as the Carroll Doctrine or the Automobile Exception to the 4th Amendment.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 40cal View Post
                          No, we need reasonable suspicion to ask for a consent search. If I had probable cause, I would not need the consent.
                          Thats what I thought too.... Blew everyone away when they said that... Everyone was like WTF is wrong with MN.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lewy15 View Post
                            Thats what I thought too.... Blew everyone away when they said that... Everyone was like WTF is wrong with MN.
                            Well, the way things have been going, the only searches we will do will be doing will be PC searches.

                            We ask WTF is wrong with MN all the time!!!!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Remember, reasonable suspicion is a very low threshold. The beauty of a traffic stop is that everyone that gets stopped by the police is nervous. Heck, I was sweating bullets a couple weeks ago when a statie stopped me. "The driver (or passenger) was visibly shaking" is probably enough to get you in. Evasive answers, sweating, story doesn't match up, stammering...a resourceful cop should be able to get into any car they want to. Don't forget to make a two minute call to the insurance company if you need to. Ask "When is the last time you smoked weed in this car?" And remember, every movement is a furtive movement. Worst thing they can do is throw it out anyway. The reality is even if you did everything perfectly you practically need a signed confession to pin a charge on someone from something found in a car (at least in Hennepin County). Don't let the suits keep you from digging into cars. Ask for consent if you want, but there are a hundred better ways to get in.

                              Comment

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