Friday, October 15, 2021

DID YOU CONSENT TO A POLICE SEARCH?

An officer generally must have a warrant in order to search you or your property unless an exception to the warrant requirement exists. One exception is that you consented. But did you really? While this may seem like a straightforward yes or no question, the facts can be murky, and different judges may interpret the same facts very differently.

To prove consent, the state must show you did so freely and without coercion. Consent cannot be extracted by implied threat or covert force. If your consent was nonverbal, the court will look at whether you intended to consent or were merely acquiescing to authority.

For example, in People v. Banta, the officer asked the defendant if he could search his person. The officer testified that the defendant “did not tell me no.” Video of the incident did not have sound so that the court had to infer whether defendant gave consent through his body language. The court held that even if defendant had not verbally refused, his lack of protest was insufficient to establish voluntary consent, and that the state had failed to meet its burden of proof.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Did you agree to the search? Was your consent voluntary? If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from an illegal search.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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