Can refusing a search request create grounds for probable cause ? ( or effectively so )

Sometimes plastic doesn’t work. Power outages for instance or when your credit card number gets stolen and the bank shuts the card down. Civil asset forfeiture without due process is a crime and a blatant violation of the Bill of Rights. It is way past time for the practice to end and those practicing it to be punished. More money and property are stolen every year by law enforcement than by none badge carrying criminals. I support honest LEOs but this policy practiced by many agencies in many jurisdictions puts them in a compromised situation.


I was told , probably 30 years ago by a friend that joined a police force and resigned a year later, that many of the young people joining the police force felt that strapping on a gun and getting that badge gave them the right to do anything , even treading the laws and the Constitution. So where are we today , I will acknowledge that there is a lot of officers that are good.

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@Fred15 I know what you say is sometimes true, I had a similar experience with a friend as well. That side of things is there. But that is also why I feel strongly that…

Two of the most priceless things this country has ever had, are it’s good police officers, and it’s dedicated soldiers. Many of whom are in our community here, and we are blessed to have them.

If ever I begin to sound like I have forgotten that because of some of the bad things people can do with their power, I would regret that very much.

When corrupt behaviors becomes blessed and accepted by leadership, that’s when we are in real trouble. I think that’s what we are worried about here, at least to me.

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Sure. I’m with you on all of that. I always carry more than one active debit/credit card (not in the same wallet) in the event of compromise, theft, or loss. If I thought it prudent to carry significant SHTF cash, it might also be prudent to secure it as contraband — more for theft prevention, but also to be private unless a warrant allowed tossing of your possessions and disassembly of your conveyance. Everybody makes a different assessment, and picks a different path.

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I forgot to say that a consent search would not require probable cause nor reasonable suspicion. If you say it’s ok, then it’s ok. When PC is present, no consent would be required — although asking is often a precursor because it avoids the delay of seeking a warrant and the uncertainty of justifying a warrantless search.

Observation of allowable things and places is a basic law enforcement duty — if you expand the extent of “allowable” by providing your consent, maybe probable cause will turn up.

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exactly. Therefore, if refusing such a search could then be construed as creating a reasonable suspicion, and or, probable cause. We then have the condition whereby a situation devoid of reasonable suspicion, can, at will, be made to generate the desired reasonable suspicion out of nothingness.

From your responses, I gather that the officer in the provided event, is assumed to have already reached the conclusion that there was reasonable suspicion, ( of what we do not know ). The remainder of the event was then simply the exercise of the officer further investigating that reasonable suspicion by the prescribed process. And that the whole problem for us, and the “suspect”? is, that we do not know the actual nature of what the reasonable suspicion was.

Does that fit your assessment?

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I do the same and never carry a ton of cash but always more than enough to fill the tank however many times I need to get home plus whatever I need for the trip. But there are lots of stories of folks who took out money to buy a used car or whatever and got it taken by LEOs. Shakedowns are for corrupt failed states like Mexico. But I guess we are not as far away from that point here as we would like to think.


@Shamrock I carried as little cash as possible while trying to carry enough, as you said, to cover the anticipatable needs should the plastics fail, or otherwise be unusable. These days a hundred dollars could hardly be expected to cover much, yet anything approaching a thousand dollars seems to be a suspicious amount to be found with. It’s almost like there is a law, by default, of how much cash you are safely allowed to have.


Not exactly.

An officer may have no suspicion of anything whatever, but is just “checking things out”. The PC for a traffic stop on your expired tags or speed or neighbor complaint does not support a search for anything else.

But they are allowed to look at things in plain sight — you, the outside of your vehicle or residence, your yard, through the windows, etc — with no regard to “suspicion” or cause. If you provide an “invitation” to look further — into your bag, or vehicle, or backyard — they may examine whatever they can make from the scope of your consent. If any of that “checking things out” reveals reasonable suspicion of criminal act, then they may have probable cause for additional investigation not requiring your assent.

You are supposed to find the circular reasoning behind “If you’re not guilty, why would you object?” compelling enough to volunteer for closer scrutiny. I’m pretty sure the courts have ruled this circular reasoning walks all over 4th & 5th Amendment guarantees, and is not allowed. But the courts won’t keep you from falling for it, nor disallow any “evidence” you “voluntarily” reveal.

Flipping the circular reasoning back at the officer is “If I’m not a suspect, why do you care?” The answer is that catching crooks is part of their assignment, and looking at whatever is available is a tactic encouraged for use to that end.


The paraphrase does not sound to me to say quite what I was trying to say, but that’s ok, lots of perspective here to chew on.


My initial thoughts were to stick with refusal and tell him to arrest me so I would have grounds for a lawsuit. But the thought, time and hassle of a lawsuit and possible legal issues make me lean towards letting the search happen. That said if my outrage was substantial enough I could definitely see myself telling him to arrest me.

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Oops. Sorry.
Trying to condense the essence of your post a bit, because the USCCA interface makes it practically impossible to follow a thread directly. I withdraw any claim of an accurate paraphrase. Let’s just say it’s my introduction to my own comments, inspired by thinking about yours. :zipper_mouth_face:

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No problem @techs , It all underscores for me that for a good person, to be a good cop, it is NOT easy. It can really take a toll on a person to face what they do, and remain that good person. My appreciation runs deep for those who do.


I always had a problem with the “probable cause” BS.

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There is a place for PC when applied properly. For instance, your daughter is kidnapped. She was last seen riding her bike in a park near your home. She was wearing a red dress with white polka dots.

A neighbor and witness tells you and the police that they noticed a man who has been driving in a brown van through the neighborhood and speaking to children by calling them up to the vehicle. They are provided with a partial number for the license plate for the van.

The police later pull over a van matching the description and with a similar license plate. When an Officer approaches the drivers side door, he sees a red dress with white polka dots draped accross the passenger seat.

Do we let the van go? Do we need to have the Officer perhaps at least engage the driver in a conversation? Does the existence of that dress provide PC?


Police can ask anyone at any time for any reason or no reason at al if they would consent to a search. There is no need for probable cause or reasonable suspicion. This is unusual without some other factor coming in to play.

As for doing an actual search, police must have probable cause to search a person, place or vehicle with the limited exception that they can do a pat down of a person if they have articulable reasonable suspicion that the person is, has or will be involved in criminal activity and the search is limited to a search for weapons on the person. Terry v. Ohio, 392 US 1 (1968). Terry does not allow a full search of the person or a search of any things or places based upon reasonable suspicion.


I agree there are situations which would warrant a search, but a search request in some cases or in my mind could be questionable or be defined as a gray area. I suppose a person always has the option to deny a search which is many cases would result in a search warrant? AND…does a person always have the right to request the reason for probable cause?

AND…may I add…I would assume that the fact that a search was done…or the results of the search could be disputed in a court of law?

This example, van, red dress with polka dots, similar plates … any two of those, or even the one, you have to check that out, no question. Obvious, articulatable reason for suspicion.

We have to allow the officers reasonable tools to do the job. After all, we want, and need, that job done.

No getting around the fact that the coin has two sides.

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I was hesitant to post this question. But what I learned was worth it.
Thanks again to those who gave input.

I will say now that I felt if I had been there, I probably could have spotted what had prompted the request. As an older man set in his ways, I’ve had the conversation with him of " you may have the right, but you can’t really do things that way anymore." My example was that you may have the right to open carry your 45 Lc in a cowboy rig every where you go, but if you do that, you know there will be issues, and, it’s so unusual, you kind of have to expect the police to take notice.

I have a renewed appreciation for what’s available to people through the USCCA.