If You Have Drugs, Don't Agree to a Police Search

Posted in:

It seems like such a simple concept, but for some irrational reason, a lot of people still don't get it. Here's another example of what happens when you give police permission to search your house for drugs:

After being told the deputies were looking for evidence of illegal activity, Cantres-Soto said, "You can search my whole room. I go to college and I don't have anything to worry about. You can search everything."

That's exactly what they did and it didn’t work out so well for this guy:

He remains held in the Osceola County Jail in lieu of $8,000 bail on charges of Possession with Intent to Sell Crack Cocaine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Did he think that agreeing to the search would somehow stop them from searching? A lot of people worry that refusing the search will make police suspicious, but so what? Which is worse: making police suspicious or just giving up and going straight to jail?

Remember that there's more to the matter than just what takes place at your doorstep. Unless they have a search warrant or probable cause, police need your permission to make the search hold up in court. It's true that police sometimes search despite your refusal, but if you end up in front of a judge, the question of whether you agreed or not is a big issue. You've got no case if you gave permission, but your lawyer can often get the charges dropped if you said no to the search. Our prisons are filled with people who didn't understand this distinction.

If you're not convinced yet, maybe this will help:

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

is it applicable?

maybe not applicable in all situations though

Re: is it applicable?

I'm not sure what specifically you're referring to, but the right against unreasonable searches and seizures is always applicable insofar as the legality of every search is considered in court. In many cases, courts will rule that a search was legal, but there's no situation in which you're legally required to verbally authorize it. You can always say no, and I can't think of a single situation in which giving permission for a search will help you in any way. Even if you knew for a fact that they would search you anyway, I would still strongly advise against giving consent.

You say "I can't think of a

You say "I can't think of a single situation in which giving persmission for a search will help you in any way."  How about when you've been pulled over for a traffic violation and you're hoping to get a warning insead of a ticket?  I can think of a specific time when I was pulled over for not stopping completely at a stop sign (I was guilty, I didn't stop).  The officer asked if he could open my door and look inside my car.  I had nothing to hide and was hoping to be shown a bit of good will so I said yes.  I was given a warning and sent on my way.  If I'd said no, maybe I would've still just gotten a warning, but I'm guessing the fact that I was cooperative helped me avoid a costly ticket and insurance increase.  

undrgrndgirl's picture

if you DON'T have drugs...

if you DON'T have drugs DON'T agree to a police search... NEVER agree to a police search!

Right, drugs or no drugs, don't consent to a search!

Even if you think you have nothing to hide.  If you invite people over at your place, you may have drugs that were accidentally left behind in your house by someone else, or maybe you have a jerk that is facing drug charges and is trying to set you up as some drug dealer (by hiding drugs in your house), so they can get off. 

Worse case scenario, maybe police are investigating a homicide or some other violent crime (not your stupid weed or crack like you thought), you are innocent (your mom and dad knows you are innocent) but they find evidence in your apartment that sure makes you look guilty as hell and you just happen to look like the suspect too. 

Your mom and dad now have to visit you in prison for the rest of their lives and your girlfriend will get on with her life, marry and have kids with someone else.

You have a responsibility to yourself and your loved ones to not consent to any search, no matter how innocent or guilty you think you are.  Just say no!

oh this is funny

Look, Never...EVER agree to a police search. Most likely they will make you sit there until they get a drug dog. How about buy some deer urine and splash it on your tires so there drug dogs will sound off on your tires. The police will then have a right to slash them to look for drugs hidden in your tires. They will have to buy you new tires or a new car. They want to **** you so why not **** them



What is stopping police from

What is stopping police from just saying you gave them permission to search anyway? I mean who is a judge going to believe: an officer of the law or a pot smoker?

re: anon

It don't matter, if there is not sound evidence on the camera because the police camera's are supposed to pick up all sound when they have someone pulled over, then the judge would HAVE to be on your side on the issue, and even if the judge believes the officers, they still destroyed your car without finding anything illegal.

Not all police forces...

...have cameras in their cars.

The camera is in the cars,

The camera is in the cars, the microphone that picks up your conversation with the police officer is on their lapels.

Guaranteed vs possible conviction, which should you choose?

You step out of the car you lock the doors behind you, and leave the keys inside. You step out on your front porch and lock the door behind you, keys still in the house. You don't say anything, except "I am refusing the search because I have an expectation of privacy". "I'm standing mute" is also acceptable either in addition or by itself. both "standing mute" and "expectation of privacy" are secret phrases that make Appelate Court judges sit up and take notice. Nowadays a home camera survelillence system is not cost prohibitive and will seriously limit the police in their options should they be inclined to fib, even video only for those in two party consent States.

I knew a girl who got her house searched by the police, who had a search warrant. This bought her a 5 felony count indictment because she had broad, eclectic tastes in drugs. While it didn't matter in her case, one count was for possession of LSD which she had lost some months before and thought someone stole it from her. If she had thought she was clean and given the cops permission to search she would have been off to prison. I found some tincture I bought in Oakland in 2007 in a cabinet a few months ago. I don't live in California anymore, and a State with only a marginal Medical law. Were I to say yes and the cops smart enough to recognize what it was I would have had the opportunity to present an affirmative defense. Being a derivitave the charge would have been a felony. Felony defenses start at a minimum of $10k, and up to $25k is possible, with the higher end more likely. I'd rather say no than spend $20k. Suppression hearings are much less expensive.

For some reason when the cops were ready to do their search instead of yelling "police search warrant" they yelled "gas company we have a leak" Now perhaps that might of worked better if it hadn't been an all electric home, I don't know. Regardless, our Rhodes Scholars that planned the raid didn't do their homework. My friend immediately sensed that something might be amiss. Her housemate started to open the door, being stoned off his ass and perhaps unaware of what fueled the climate control devices in the home. My friend ran to the door, screamed NO, and tried to shut the door but the police forced their way in, without identifying themselves. At the suppression hearing (which I did attend), after the cops gave a totally truthful accounting of what happened in the raid, the Judge stated that the most significant factor in his decision to suppress was my friend screaming no, and attempting to shut the "gas company employees out" which she had every right to do even if her home had burned down as a result. Yes, if things had been different, they wouldn't have been the same. Had the police yelled "police" rather than "gas company" Had my freind been in the basement rather than by the front door, had the cops checked the power source of her climate control appliances, had the police "testi-lied", had there been a different judge, had she hired a different lawyer, etc, etc, etc. Regardless, this was one occassion when just saying no actually worked.

As far as who the judge is going to believe, if it were so cut and dried why do the police have you sign a written permission form, why in the world did they even create them?

Oh, one other thing. The reason judges believe the police is because most of them don't "testi-lie", believe it or not. Most cops are in fact honest, dedicated public servants that uphold the law as written. Most defendants are the diametric opposite. Guess who told the judge that my friend screamed no and tried to shut the door in his face? Then again that may not have been nobility, it may have had to do with the half  dozen witnesses including the strangely misplaced 80 year old man who didn't get high who was sitting in the living room at the time. "Uncle" John as we affectionately called him was merely an old man that rented a room in the house.Witnesses can really putz a lie pretty quick, especially the uninvolved except by happenstance.

If you've got drugs, saying no, claiming an expectation of privacy, and standing mute might not keep you from conviction and a possible jail term. The cops might lie, the Judge might be a Know Nothing prohibitionist who thinks violating the law to enforce it is fine and dandy, or some other perfidy might cause you to be convicted. The key word being might. If you sign the permission slip there's no way that you might be acquitted, no way the evidence gets suppressed, pack your toothbrush and your soap on a rope, you're going to the Graybar Hotel on vacation. Why in the world would you take a guaranteed conviction because you might get railroaded? How does that make any sense whatsoever?


If you "don't have anything to hide" you should be aware that the cops don't search neatly, don't repair or pay for repairs for damage they might do in furtherance of their search, aren't inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt if they think there might be drugs hidden behind the drywall, and they don't clean up after themselves when they're done.

In the eyes of a judge you are equal to a cop

As strange and unbelievable as it sounds, to a judge, the police's testimony has no more weight than any other person in the court.

I've been selected for jury duty 3 times. Each time I have had to fill out a questionnaire. Each questionnaire had the same question, as a juror in this matter would you consider the testimony of a police officer to be more believable or reliable than another's testimony, or words to that effect. Each time I said yes, because I truly believed, and still do, that discounting all other issues, honesty, etc., a police officer is trained to observe and report, so they should do a better job as a witness than the average Joe.

In each case I was summoned before the judge. In each case the judge focused on only two issues 1. The fact that I worked in the legal industry, they wanted to establish that I did not know and had not worked on any case or prior cases involving the attorneys or parties in the current matter and 2. That I understand that in their court room they have the final say, and that in their court room, the testimony of a police officer should be considered as having no greater weight than any other witness called. They didn't just say this, they wanted an affirmative answer from me that I understood what they were saying and would use that standard in the juries deliberations on the matter before us.

So while reasonably you might believe that a judge would take the word of a police officer over yours, it just is not so, and they apparently screen for that prejudice in juries.

Never let them search in your house.

Unfortunately,when they came to my door they always had a warrant.They search for several hours and then if you don't wind up in prison,you have a week of cleaning up to do and a whole lot of destroyed perishables,spread all over the place.Get used to it cause when you hit the can they'll be doing it every second day.It's a very scary thing the first time you have a dozen police all up in your face.Try to remember to just say no,like Nancy Reagan.


Barry Cooper's advice (quite sensible imo) is that drug dealers should consent to searches if the stash is well hidden in order to reduce officer suspicion.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School