Carrollton, TX asked in Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Federal Crimes for Texas

Q: Can I refuse a search of my backpack if someone calls the police on me because they thought I was suspicious?

I was walking with a friend late at night and someone saw me and him and called the cops and they stopped me and questioned me about my bag and wanted to search it and it was 1 am and I told them no and they said usually people let us look if they aren’t hiding something but I wasn’t but I just didn’t think it was necessary cause I knew he thought I had drugs but I didn’t but he kept going on about how I was suspicious and acting like I was hiding something so I just opened the bag up and showed them everything except under my pillow at the bottom of my bag but he said he’d seen enough but it was all me showing him it wasn’t real thorough search but it made him happy and they let me go and he seemed real nice but I just wasn’t sure I had to show them my bag or really how to act

3 Lawyer Answers
Grant St Julian III
Grant St Julian III
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Dallas, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: You have the right to refuse a request to search anytime, anywhere. After any such refusal, law enforcement would have to make the determination if circumstances justified a warrant less search, or if enough evidence existed to obtain a warrant for said search.

Kiele Linroth Pace agrees with this answer

Brandon Wilson Barnett
Brandon Wilson Barnett
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: Under both the US and Texas Constitutions, you have an absolute right to refuse to consent to a search of your person, home, or effects (including your bags). By refusing, you place the investigating agency in a position where they must pursue a search warrant and provide specific facts to a judge that amount to more than a mere hunch that they might find something. Only if the judge believes that there is probable cause will the judge sign the search warrant. If an officer has a valid search warrant, then you may no longer refuse the search. However, if it can later be determined by your lawyer in court that the search warrant was invalid for whatever reason, the judge can suppress the evidence that was seized during the search.

Brandon Wilson Barnett
Brandon Wilson Barnett
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: Under both the US and Texas Constitutions, you have an absolute right to refuse to consent to a search of your person, home, or effects (including your bags). By refusing, you place the investigating agency in a position where they must pursue a search warrant and provide specific facts to a judge that amount to more than a mere hunch that they might find something. Only if the judge believes that there is probable cause will the judge sign the search warrant. If an officer has a valid search warrant, then you may no longer refuse the search. However, if it can later be determined by your lawyer in court that the search warrant was invalid for whatever reason, the judge can suppress the evidence that was seized during the search. Regardless of how the police choose to proceed, you should remain courteous and respectful, remembering that the body cam video is recording your demeanor throughout the interaction.

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