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In FLORIDA, If a cop stops me or pulls me over & asks me to step "here or there" for a pat down, can you refuse and say "I do not consent to any searches or seizures"? I have heard many, many cops make up false police reports on people, could they make up someone had drugs on them while doing a pat down & present it as false evidence to the courts??? What could someone do to prevent all of this from happening ???

Attorney Answers 8

  1. You need to be very careful when interacting with a law enforcement officer. Be polite, but know your rights. If you are pulled over, you can ask why. If the officer wants to search you, you can say no. The officer may search you anyway, claiming her had a reasonable, articulable suspicion, but the search has to be limited to a patdown, and unless he feels contraband like drugs or a gun, that should be it.

    It is important to deny the law enforcement officer the search, even if he's going to do it anyway because most of your defenses against anything he finds is going to come later in the form of a motion to suppress hearing. In that hearing, if a Judge feels the officer went too far without permission, any evidence found is going to be tossed out. On the other hand, if the officer can say you told him it was OK to search you, your car, etc., then anything goes and whatever he finds is coming in to evidence. Do not physically resist the officer or his attempt to search you!

    I wouldn't worry too much about false police reports and planting evidence. It happens rarely, but most police officers aren't Denzel Washington from the movie Training Day. If they are discovered perjuring themselves and planting false evidence like this, they lose their job and will probably never find another one in law enforcement. Every case they've worked is going to be tainted, and looked at under a microscope. They also are going to probably face criminal prosecution. Do you think they'll risk that to make a pot or crack arrest? They make plenty of those legitimately as it is. That isn't to say there is an occasional bad apple, but it's the exception, not the rule. The best way to protect yourself is to refuse any requested searches, and if the search happens anyway, be polite. The refusal will go into the report which can matter later. I keep emphasizing politeness because sometimes police will take someone in to jail on a "humble" if the person is rude. The theory is you can beat the charge, but you can't beat the ride to jail. A little bit of politeness can save you the Resisting Without Violence charge or whatever they might slap on you!

    For more information or to set up a free consultation contact the Witt Law at 407-205-WITT (9488). This answer does not, nor is it intended to, create an attorney-client relationship. It is offered for informational purposes only. Please consult with a licensed attorney before making any legal decisions.

  2. You can refuse to consent. That would eliminate the consent search option. But police have other legal options, and the search MAY legally proceed without your consent.

    Jail sentences await officers convicted of planting evidence. I believe your sources are wrong, planting evidence is rare.

    To minimize the chances of 'all this' happening, keep your car in tip top repair, keep your tags up to date, obey all traffic laws, don't involve yourself in situations that draw police attention, be polite when engaged with officers, immediately contact a criminal defense attorney if charged with a crime.

    NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

  3. First, even if cops are lying, you should be as cooperative as possible when they order you to do something, but if they "ask" or there statement sounds like a question, then you should always says I do not consent to a search. But if they try to search you notwithstanding your refusal, you should not resist as they will only make up further charges. As for whether cops lie, as you will see from previous answers, some former prosecutors are still under the effects of the government Kool-Aid, as I encounter police lying frequently.

  4. It is all a gray area which depends on the exact facts of the situation. It is an unanswerable question!

  5. Most LEOs are honest, however, as with any segment of society, some are not. Additionally, in court, the judge has the discretion to view LEO credibility higher than that of yours. That being said, if an officer states that s/he smells alcohol or drugs, they will likely be deemed to have reasonable suspicion, and they will be able to search you regardless of your consent. As a general rule of thumb, if LEOs "ask" you something, you may politely refuse and ask if you can leave. If you are told that you may not leave, you are being detained. At that point, do not resist (that will result in yet another charge) simply ask for an attorney. NO good could come of anything done or said at that point. Other than perhaps your silence.

  6. You should ask why you are being stopped and if you are free to leave. If you are told that you aren't free to leave, you should be cooperative (give your correct name, Driver's License, Insurance info) and wait for your ticket or warning. You do not have to answer any questions, and you do not have to give consent to a search. In fact, if the officer is asking for your permission, that's a red flag - Say NO. Make sure you repeatedly make it known that you are not consenting and you will only answer questions with your attorney present.

    Keep your hands in the open and if you must reach for something in your pocket or car, explain what you are doing first to avoid a pat down or causing the officer to "fear for officer safety" which could lead to a pat down search for weapons. The law allows the officer to do a pat down search for weapons, not a pat down search for weapons AND drugs. If you do consent to a pat down search, make it clear that your consent is only for a pat down, once they go into your pockets or into your pants (it happens), speak up! No means No. If you let the officer continue the search beyond what you've given permission for, you may be waiving your rights.

    Officers can lie. They sometimes do. The best thing is to avoid the stop to begin with, you can always prevent this from happening by first obeying all traffic signals, speed limits, stops (behind the white line - every time!), and making sure your headlights & brake lights are functioning and that you & your passengers are all wearing seat belts in a legally tinted car with a valid tag and driver's license (aka, avoid the stop to begin with).

    Your best defense is to know your rights, don't give them a reason to pull you over, and don't give the officer something to go on (aka, be polite or you may pick up a Resisting charge).

  7. I loved reading my esteemed colleagues answers to your question. They each articulate excellent advise and commentary. I do not disagree with any of it and while I have little more of substance to add, I do wish to put forth my .02¢.

    In my experience some of the biggest problems in our criminal justice system are the unbridled power afforded to law enforcement "on the street", the simple truth that (at then end of the day) a huge percentage of cases boil down to a "he said / she said" between a criminal defendant and sworn law enforcement and that there is an unfortunate truth that judges and jurors tend to give significantly more credibility to the latter (sworn law enforcement) than they do to the supposedly "presumed innocent" former (the Defendant).

    In my opinion, the best thing that has happened to level the playing field when it comes to police citizen encounters in the last century is the installation and use of of dash-cams (video & audio recording apparatus). Why? Because when the cameras are rolling there can be no question as to what really, truly occurred on the roadside (and while I want, struggle even, to believe that the vast majority of cops play by the rules, I know that some simply don't), because the camera doesn't lie. (Take a look at this link for an excellent example of a bad scenario involving "cops gone bad" on the roadside.... ).

    Sadly, in many jurisdictions (such as in Miami-Dadec County, where I primarily practice) there is virtually no video, and this never ceases to amazes me (for the video potentially protects the police just as much as it does the civlian). If it were up to me every police car, and every police officer, would be wired with video and audio recording devices every minute of every shift. The technology is there and its inexcusable that its not mandatory.

    My .02¢ not withstanding, the other lawyers who posted answers to your question hit on a good number of critical issues. I encourage you to re-read the previous answers and to take notes. A good rule of thumb is to remember that every police citizen encounter is different but they all have one thing in common: They can all go south in a hurry. You have rights, and you should know them, but you also have commmon sense, and you should use it. (Kinda like "what happpens in Vegas", what happens on the side of the road may be very different than what either appears in an arrest affidavit or is ultimately testified to from the witness stand.)

  8. Every lawyer here has hit on parts of the truth, and I agree with them all. I do have a few thoughts that you may want to consider.

    There are about one million police officers in the United States. Some are wonderful, I wish that they would work inu neighborhood. Most, like people in any job, are just trying to make it through the day. Some, unfortunately, have the same issues that the rest of society suffers from. Some are thieves, drug addicts, child molesters, and liars.

    The ones who are liars are generally not very good at it. They also follow the same pattern almost all of the time. They leave facts out of the report. They embellish and exaggerate. It is surprisingly rare for even the most dishonest cop to completely fabricate evidence, or to plant it. I am not saying that it doesn't happen, but it is very rare. As to the ones who embellish, an attorney who is good at cross examination can almost always get the truth out. For the worst, most evil, evidence planters, often everyone in the legal system knows who they are, and their evidence needs corroboration before a judge will rule on their testimony.

    That leaves the 1%. The worst, most corrupt liars that are so good that nobody has figured it out. You can only hope that you never cross paths with them. Sometimes their fellow cops know, but the code of silence protects them. I really wish that the honest cops would turn them in. They make the job harder for the other honest cops. Sadly, this is not the culture. Someone mentioned dash cams. Those, along with security cameras and cell phone cameras are making life harder for them every day. To that, I say good! This very small group does a lot of damage. Hopefully one day, they will all be driven out of the profession.

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