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At the David W. Martin Law Group, our criminal defense attorneys in South Carolina want each of our residents to know that before the police can search your person, vehicle, home, or another property, you have rights.
That includes the right to refuse to consent to the search. In its very simplest terms, if you are asked by law enforcement if they can search your property, the answer is “no.”
You also do not have to answer any of their questions and are free to leave the encounter altogether if you are not under arrest.
However, you are responsible for not interfering with a police investigation. That means you must be truthful about who you are. You may be asked to provide proof of identification to confirm that is true during a stop; however, if you are not driving a vehicle then you do not need to provide any identifying information or driver’s license. You have the right to remain silent and you are not required to identify yourself to law enforcement in South Carolina.
Outside of law enforcement having probable cause or a warrant to search your property, you have the right to say no, and move on. If you should be arrested, you have the right to remain silent and contact an attorney: Invoke both.
Until then, here is what you need to know about your rights and protection from an illegal search and seizure in South Carolina.
Can a Police Office Search Me While I Am on Foot in South Carolina?
There is typically no reason a police officer should stop an individual from walking down the street or stop anyone when they are in a place they are entitled to be if he or she does not have a legitimate reason to do so.
However, that does not mean it does not happen.
If you are stopped by a police officer:
- Remain calm and respectful.
- Ask if you are free to go. If so, walk away.
- Do not answer any questions the officer may ask.
- Withhold consent for any search.
- If detained, inform the officer that you are invoking your Fifth Amendment rights and remain silent until you are free to go.
If you believe your rights have been violated at any time during a stop, contact our skilled criminal defense lawyers in South Carolina today to learn more about your rights to hold the officer(s) responsible for their unlawful behavior.
Can Law Enforcement Search My Vehicle After a Traffic Stop in South Carolina?
If you have been stopped by law enforcement while driving in South Carolina, you must comply with their demand to provide your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.
You are under no obligation to allow officers to look inside your car and can refuse to consent to the search of your vehicle.
If you are stopped by a police officer while driving a vehicle:
- Ask politely why the officer pulled you over.
- Do not answer any questions the police may ask you.
- Ask if you are free to go or are being detained.
- If detained, inform the officer that you are invoking your Fifth Amendment rights and remain silent until you are released.
Keep in mind, the vehicle can be searched without your consent if the police have reason to suspect your vehicle contains evidence of a crime. Police Officers often cite the smell or odor of marijuana as the basis for their suspicion that the vehicle contains drugs that they are entitled to search for. If the officers have probable cause to search your vehicle and begin a search, stay calm, stay silent, and stay out of the way.
If the search results in an arrest, continue to remain silent and, before any questioning, ask to speak with our dedicated criminal defense attorneys in South Carolina to discuss the next steps to your case, so you can move forward with confidence.
Can the Police Search My South Carolina Home Without a Warrant?
You do not have to let law enforcement inside your home for any reason unless they have a warrant.
If the police have stated they simply want to talk to you about a law enforcement matter, you can decline, or step outside — closing the door behind you — to preserve your privacy.
If the police officer does have a warrant, ask to see it.
There are important details inside the document, including:
- Authorization to enter the residence at the address listed on the document.
- Specific details on where and what the officers are allowed to search and for what.
You still have the right to remain silent and to contact an attorney before answering any questions. If you are arrested because of the search, contact our skilled South Carolina criminal defense lawyers right away.
Contact Our Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyers in South Carolina Today
If you have been arrested for any reason, or if you believe your encounter with law enforcement resulted in a violation of your rights, we want to know that right away, so we can either file a formal complaint, challenge any criminal charges you may be facing in court, or both. Contact our experienced South Carolina criminal defense attorneys by calling (803) 548-2468 or contacting us online today.