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How do you phrase consent to search?

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  • How do you phrase consent to search?

    Just curious. Just how tactics may very I'm sure there are different variants of phrasing the question.

    Ex).
    Q: Do you have anything illegal on you, like drugs or weapons?
    A: No.
    Q: So then you don't mind if I check?

  • #2
    Check with your prosecutor's office to see how they want it worded. I used to ask if they had anything and then follow up with "well then, you wouldn't mind if I take a look to verify that?"

    One state's attorney said that was golden; next election, new state's attorney--he wants the word 'search' included in the field interview.

    What terminology does your FTO use?

    “Truth is not what you want it to be; it is what it is, and you must bend to its power or live a lie.”

    Miyamoto Musashi

    “Life Is Hard, But It's Harder When You're Stupid”

    George V. Higgins (from The Friends of Eddie Coyle)

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    • #3
      I usually go with "So, you think you are smarter than me and hid your crap well enough that I won't find it. I think I am smarter than you and that I can actually find it. So you are giving me your permission to search because you are smarter than me and I will never find it, right?"






      No - I don't really say that.... but I sure wish I could.

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      • #4
        I say we have a new sheriff who really wants us to be proactive, you wouldn't have any illegal contraband, knives, drugs or bomb would you? (Always say no) You wouldn't mind if I looked would you? (Always say yes)


        I found that doing it this way people really emphasize on the word bombs so they ignore the drugs part of it. Then me making it seem like they're doing it as a favor seems to get them to let me do it. I haven't been rejected once when asking for consent,,,,yet.

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        • #5
          We are taught to be forward and ask, "Can I search your vehicle", so there is no question if and when it goes to court.
          Strong Body, Sharp Mind And Good Tactics!

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          • #6
            ^^^ What Rush said.
            I would suggest not using "do you mind" because of the possibility of a suspect saying "No (meaning 'I don't mind')" and then claiming in court that they said "No (meaning 'I don't consent')."
            Don't leave 'em any wiggle room by any ambiguity.

            Don't use any terminology that limits the scope of the search. Getting consent by asking "Can I search your vehicle for weapons" could lead to exclusion of anything else found in the course of the search. Even if other discoveries aren't excluded, the resulting legal wrangling might be more than your prosecutor's office wants to deal with.
            "The question whether the respondent's consent...was in fact voluntary...is to be determined by the totality of all the circumstances...and is a matter which the Government has the burden of proving." (United States v. Mendenhall)
            --
            Capital Punishment means never having to say "you again?"

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            • #7
              In Colorado we have to articulate that the person voluntarily consents to a search AND have to advise them they have the right to refuse. Makes most of our spiels here pretty straight forward... Typically you want to build as much rapport as you can before asking, because most people will shoot you down after you tell them they can say no. But then there are the others..

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              • #8
                Ha! My dept leaves no room for clever phrasing. We have to get them to read and sign a written consent form. For us, consent searches are essentially a thing of the past. Best have probable cause or don't even bother.

                However, if we were still allowed to proceed with a search based on verbal consent, I would do as others and make sure your wording is pretty straight forward. You can add some fluff to kind of "soften" it up, but you should still probably have the words "Do you mind if I search _________?"
                Last edited by allen_gamble; 05-18-2014, 10:07 AM.

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                • #9
                  SCOTUS ruled back in '96 that valid consent doesn't require telling the suspect that he or she has a right to refuse a search. (Ohio v. Robinette, 519 US 33.) Of course, "a State is free as a matter of its own law to impose greater restrictions on police activity than those this Court holds to be necessary upon federal constitutional standards." (Oregon v. Hass, 1975)

                  Since NuBoot's in California, I'd suggest something written by Devallis Rutledge, a former police officer and a veteran prosecutor. Consent Searches--Extracting the rules from 17 Supreme Court decisions.

                  There's a paragraph or so in the above article about the potential pitfalls of asking "do you mind" when requesting consent to search.
                  --
                  Capital Punishment means never having to say "you again?"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    "me search you?" (with a happy smiley face)

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                    • #11
                      "Part of our jobs as police officers is to keep people safe. We are looking for guns, knives, hand grenades, rocket launchers, weapons of mass destruction, illegal narcotics, dead bodies, large sums of money, things of that nature. (Usually at this point there is a chuckle and a naw I ain't got none of that) With that in mind, do you have any objection to me searching your vehicle for any of those items?"
                      "To hell with a supervisor, men follow a leader" -Texas Ranger Captain Allee

                      "Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death."
                      -Sun Tzu

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                      • #12
                        "It's pretty cold out here. Can I warm my hands in your pockets?"

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                        • #13
                          I keep it simple and to the point, I dont like wasting time playing with people. Its "Do you have any guns ,knives or anything sharp ," "No" okay, so you dont mind if i search?" Works for Peds and Vehicles.
                          "Its not what you know, its what you can prove."-Training Day

                          "Game on, bitches. Whoop whoop, flash the lights, pull it over."

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                          • #14
                            The likelihood of having a court battle some day about whether the suspect meant "no I don't mind" or "no I don't consent" might be small, but I bet your prosecutor would prefer you to phrase it as "Is it okay if I search (you, your car, etc.)?"

                            A very smart man with a J.D. suggested that (see the link in post #9), and he points out that the burden of proving valid consent is on the government, so don't leave the defendant and his lawyer any "linguistic wiggle room."
                            --
                            Capital Punishment means never having to say "you again?"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RR_Security View Post
                              The likelihood of having a court battle some day about whether the suspect meant "no I don't mind" or "no I don't consent" might be small, but I bet your prosecutor would prefer you to phrase it as "Is it okay if I search (you, your car, etc.)?"

                              A very smart man with a J.D. suggested that (see the link in post #9), and he points out that the burden of proving valid consent is on the government, so don't leave the defendant and his lawyer any "linguistic wiggle room."
                              For this reason is why I always ask twice. I do the "You don't have any objections to me searching your vehicle for any of those items?" When they say No, I then reply, "You don't mind?" And again they say no, I'll then say wait right here with this officer, or on my push bumper while I conduct the search. It gives them another chance to revoke consent. It may sound like I am giving them an out, but it hasn't happened yet, and I've never gone to court over any cases involving consented searches. I also make the long list of things because if I just ask for weapons and I find a tiny bud of weed under the floor mat, I don't want some slimy defense attorney trying to suppress based upon no weapons could reasonably be concealed under a floor mat without some sort of bulge in the mat or something similar. That's sort of a poor example but I think it makes my point.
                              "To hell with a supervisor, men follow a leader" -Texas Ranger Captain Allee

                              "Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death."
                              -Sun Tzu

                              Comment

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