THE LAW: In U.S. v. Patiutka, the US Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit ruled that when a motorist gives consent to a vehicle search during a traffic stop, that consent can be withdrawn. When the police officers ignored Mr. Patiutka’s request to cease the search, the evidence seized was suppressed. The court ruled that since consent was the only basis for the search, when the consent was withdrawn, the police officer’s continued search was illegal.

THE LESSON: The motorist has the right and the power not to consent. It is critical to not make the police officer’s goal of building a case against you easier. Never consent to anything: never agree to give the police the right to search and never provide them with information prior to consulting with an attorney. If by some reason you temporarily forget this advice, withdraw consent immediately after regaining your senses. Now that police encounters are often recorded with dashcams and chest mounted cameras, the video tape evidence is a much more accurate account of whether consent was given and the scope of the consent. Know to say “no.”


U.S .v. Patiutka (US Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 10/23/2015)