“Do You Mind if I Search You/Your Car?”

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Judge Khouzam

This is a question frequently asked by police officers to use the consent exception to the requirement to obtain a warrant. Note the difference compared with “Can I search you/your car?” A “yes” answer has exactly the opposite meaning depending upon which question was asked. Police officers are well aware of this fact.

In the case of J.W.E. v. State of Florida, this question, and its answer, were critical.

J.W.E. was riding his bicycle during the evening when he was stopped by law enforcement because his bicycle did not have lights. During the stop, the officer sought J.W.E.’s consent to be searched. The officer, believing he had obtained consent, searched J.W.E. and found marijuana. J.W.E. was charged possession of not more than 20 grams of marijuana.

During the motion to suppress, the officer initially testified that “he asked permission to search [J.W.E.] and [J.W.E.] replied in the affirmative yes.” The officer subsequently explained: “I said ‘Do you mind if I search you?’ And he said yes.” The court inexplicably denied the motion to suppress.

On appeal, the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, found:

Indeed, the officer’s testimony that J.W.E. answered “yes” when asked “Do you mind if I search you,” tended to establish that J.W.E. did not consent.

The District Court also found that the motion to suppress should have been granted.

Police officers are well aware of the counter-intuitive aspect of the “Do you mind?” form of their attempt to gain consent. That’s why they use it. In the ACLU’s guide Know Your Rights, they recommend:

If you do not want your car searched, clearly state that you do not consent.

The proper answer to the “Do you mind?” question is: “I do not consent.” This response avoids any ambiguity inherent in the question.

H/T: FourthAmendment.com.

24 thoughts on ““Do You Mind if I Search You/Your Car?””

  1. Ok not just look up common law. Now the thing is if you register your vehicle to any state they have rightful ownership of it and can search it if they want to and ask every person in the vehicle their name. But that’s is your “driving” your motor vehicle not traveling in yout transporting device that is not registered. Go to you tube and look up common law . Sovereignty . Secured party creditor . And driving without a liscense as a FREEMAN! hit me up Erich Ognjan facebook if you want to know your “real” RIGHTS!

  2. FFLEO, glad your granddaughter is doing well. And good for the parents. You obviously did something right in that department too. I do not know if you missed the comment, but two Sundays ago, on March 27, my 17 y/o grandson lost his battle with cancer. We buried him last week to the skirling of his beloved bagpipes. I am so glad to hear a positive story about a grandchild.

  3. FFLEO,

    Happy to hear that your granddaughter is doing well. She’s lucky to have a grandfather like you, if what I’ve seen on the blog is any indication…

    Thanks for the video.

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