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

My advice to anyone at any time is do NOT consent to a search, ever. If they ask you to search your car, say, “no, thank you. am I free to leave?” If they do not have probable cause they can lo longer detain you and must allow you to leave.
If they believe they have probable cause, they can search your vehicle or they can detain you and seek a warrant. If they search without a warrant, there is at better chance that a court may suppress evidence if it does not agree on what officer believes is probable cause. If they get a warrant, a judge determined there was PC and evidence would be harder to suppress.

You have the right to request what their probable cause is but they are not required to tell you. In Kentucky it will usually be documented in the charging document.

Yes, a search can be disputed in court and you can argue that the evidence should be suppressed.

Absolutely! But, police are required to follow the appropriate rules without shortcuts. This is the reason consent searches are extremely valuable to law enforcement.

Using that as PC in Kentucky will get an officer in a lot of trouble unless they have actual knowledge the person is a prohibited person. Even if the person turns out to be a felon, the evidence would be suppressed and there would likely be a civil rights claim brought against the officer and department.


Excellent responses. I am pretty sure I have always read to never consent to a search. Not that I have anything to hide but I just don’t like someone rummaging through my car. I also always had the feeling that some over eager LEO would just love to find something illegal and make a big score. I’m sure there have been some cases of something being found that innocently enough was left in a vehicle or forgotten that shouldn’t have been there. Heck I am paranoid enough to believe that a hammer or a big screwdriver could be construed as a crime tool.

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What are your state laws? In Colorado (so far!) the officer has no right to force you to comply to a vehicle search for a simple traffic stop. Colorado state law also recognizes your right to keep a concealed firearm in your vehicle. If you are a felon, or have any record that’s a whole different ball game. You’d better not have a gun in the car. Squad cars are equipped with the latest technology and the officer can find out your history in a matter of minutes.
If you’re not sure, go to your local sheriff’s office and inquire or go to your state FBI and ask what the laws are. Usually you can get this information on line. If you want a real stomach turning experience, sign up for ATF news letters…also the repository for enough firearms laws to keep you reading from now until he** freezes over. Happy hunting.

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Hello and welcome @Lon1

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Welcome to the family brother @Lon1 , glad you could join us.

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Thanks folks

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Qualified immunity ONLY protects inept and crooked cops from paying for their own unlawful actions- so any settlement lands on the taxpayers. MANY departments are responsible for the taxpayers paying 10s of millions of dollars. The worst thing is that these officers know that they will not be held responsible for their unlawful actions. The following article puts the amount at 3 billion dollars.

I’m sorry you feel that way @Elza1. What you probably do not know is that the federal government, all states and many political subdivisions within states, have sovereign immunity and cannot be sued unless they allow themselves to be sued. This means that any claims against these entities must be pursued by suing the individuals who work for the government. In most cases, this happens when the agents of the entities are doing exactly what they are hired to do, including law enforcement. The elimination of qualified immunity would put every person working “under the color of law” in a position to be criminally charged or sued personally for every job they did.

You also need to understand that qualified immunity also extends to criminal and civil actions. This means that if they cannot be prosecuted they also cannot be sued. It makes you wonder why so much money is getting paid for these suits.

I will tell you, what bothers me the most is the ignorance of people who want to blast police for the handling of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and many of the others who have become martyrs for the cause of police reform. Police in both of the above cases were investigated by local, state and the Justice Department and the shootings were determined to be justified. The Justice Department reports are attached below.

The problem with the call for the reforms being requested are being seen in our cities today. The number of police officers is dwindling and, frankly, police officers are now doing much less active policing and are mostly responding to call for service. If they see something suspicious, they will drive by altercation and wait to be dispatched to the scene where fight was going on and escalated to a stabbing or shooting. Many are choosing to keep themselves out of harms way, and subsequently less likely to be fired, prosecuted or sued, for taking early action.

Crime in our cities has risen to levels unseen in the past. Assault and homicide rates continue to climb as do the number of first responder deaths. As the calls to defund the police and law enforcement reforms continue, so will the rising crime rates.

@Elza1, I would encourage you to contact your local police department and ask if you could do a ride along. If you do, try to do one on a weekend late watch in the worst district/division/precinct you know of. Before you start judging the law enforcement system, try getting a first hand look into the job they are doing.


As someone who worked for 27 years in that profession, I say “Thank you!” for setting the record straight on “qualified immunity”.

As Mike said: Take a ride-a-long and then get back to us.

Stay safe out there.

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@MikeBKY I recently read about part of Louisiana law that states police can not keep a person beyond a reasonable amount of time during a traffic stop.

Of course, this “reasonable time” is not defined. But, my understanding is that if you don’t find PC in the basic time it would take to run the plates and DL of the driver, ask a few basic questions, and write the ticket, it would be unlawful for the officer to keep them longer than that without PC.

I am going to ask about a person asking if they are free to go when asked for consent to search. Curious about their reaction to that.

Interesting stuff!

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It continues to amaze me at the judgments people make without knowing. I am former LEO, I don’t need a ride along… I know… I am not a “defunder” nor a cop hater. I’ve seen too many officers acting under color of law violating people because they are betting that that person cannot afford an attorney. I have a friend who is a capt in the local Professional Standards office. I don’t think that police should be able to lie to get a person to waive his/her rights, yet, that is a regular practice among LEOs because they misinterpret the SCOTUS statement that the police can lie (to a suspect being interrogated for an offense he/she are suspected of ). An officer can get insurance-- just as we citizens do who carry-- instead of innocent taxpayers paying their settlements. Officers have no incentive to do what lawful and right when they don’t have to pay the consequences.

By the way, Mike, I am not talking about the criminals you mentioned… I’m talking about the day to day encounters with the public-- people doing LEGAL things and being confronted by officers who don’t like what they are doing or ignorant of basic rights. ALSO, Sir, there are twice as many INNOCENT people who are killed by police (not the george floyds or those you mention) than police killed in the line of duty. The police have a very hard job… but violating rights and the law does not make their jobs easier-- as we are seeing today. I respect good officers, I would (and will) help an officer in need should I be put in that position, yet, I will choose to be my own first responder and the defender of my family because as Kevin McClousky says in a recent article in CC Magazine " no one is coming to help you".

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point proven… You assumed you know me and my motives… a large part of the problem between law enforcement and citizens. see my comment to @MikeBKY.

It sounds to me like you were the one making all of the assumptions here. Take a ride-along and get back to us. In the meantime, stay safe out there.

You must have missed the part where I said I was former LEO. Arrogance is the officer’s worst enemy.

Give it a rest Elza. If you’re a former LEO, you should know all about “qualified immunity”. Mike’s explanation is sufficient. There’s really no need to continue this back and forth.

I think everyone could benefit from a ride-along in these modern times, retired or not.

As for arrogance - “Physician, heal thyself”.


I agree, MIke’s explanation is sufficient, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with all he said (I think this is still America). And I will agree with your comment that everyone could benefit from a ride-along in these modern times, retired or not. As for your last comment, one must be ill to need healing. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I’m ill. So, Frank, I’m giving it a rest.

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Thanks Elza. I wish you Peace and Safety in retirement.

Stay safe,



That is the law in the United States. Police cannot extend a stop beyond what is reasonable for the original reason of the stop unless new information develops to the level of reasonable suspicion or probable cause to extend the stop. Illinois v. Caballes, 543 US 405 (2005).


@Elza, thank you for the clarification and thank you for serving. I believe the vast majority of law enforcement are good people trying to do the right thing, as are people in most jobs/professions. The bad ones stain the badges of all of the good ones. For the ones that are purposely violating the rights of others, they need to be dealt with appropriately. And, if that is the case, then qualified immunity should not and does not apply to as long as it is a “clearly established right.”
As far as police deception in getting confessions, Frazier v. Cupp, 394 U.S. 731 (1969), is still the law in the US and most jurisdictions.
As for the employers being responsible for the acts of their employees, this is the case in most situations. If a taxi or truck driver causes a wreck, the employer is vicariously liable for the actions of their employees acting within the course and scope of their employment. When a semi driver falls asleep at the wheel and plows in to a line of stopped vehicles, the trucking company is responsible for the driver’s actions. The legal term is respondeat superior which holds a principal (employer) responsible for the actions of the agent (employee). If one of my employees causes an injury while doing work for me, I am responsible.
I would not advocate for police officers being forced to carry their own insurance, however, it is not a bad idea in any way shape or form But from the same perspective, should the same be sought for fire, EMS, sanitation and all the other departments within a local government since they can cause injuries and deaths in their jobs as well. And if they did, would they be able to afford a $12,000,000 million policy to pay the family of someone shot by a police officer in a botched warrant execution? It is unlikely.
In reality, if we hold the individual officers financially responsible for their negligence, the reality would be like holding murderers financially responsible for theirs. If the families of Jeffrey Dahmer tried to sue him, they would end up with nothing. He is what we call judgment proof! Even if he were free and working, would anyone be able to recover anything significant? As they say, you can’t get blood from a stone.
I think the most negative side of discussions about eliminating qualified immunity is that it will lead to inaction by officers. Why put your life, career, and financial stability on the line if you will be persecuted for merely doing your job. Crime in Louisville has increased exponentially as police leave LMPD en masse and the remaining officers have given up proactive policing and only respond to calls for service because of the negative sentiment in the community and the lack of support from the current administration and the fear of being disciplined, fired or worse for doing their job. And, even with significant raises last year and a new contract with more coming, they cannot fill a recruit class of 30 people with qualified applicants. This has lead to the qualifications being lowered meaning lower quality applicants.
All I can say it it is likely to get worse before it gets better.