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Can the Police Search Me or My Property After an Arrest in Waldorf, MD?

Yes, after you have been arrested by the police in Waldorf, Maryland, Maryland law enforcement officials CAN lawfully search you, your belongings, and, where applicable, portions of your vehicle. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime in Charles County, MD, call the experienced and courtroom-proven Maryland criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of Robert Castro. Call us at (301) 705-5137; we are available around the clock, 24/7. Here is why the police can search you and your property after an arrest.

Generally, Maryland police cannot search a person or property without asking for permission from a Maryland criminal court judge. The “permission” comes in the form of a “search warrant” and there are specific legal rules for the issuance of a search warrant.

However, there are a number of exceptions to the requirement that a search cannot occur unless there is a search warrant. One major exception is for a search conducted after an arrest. There are two reasons underlying this exception. The first is the legal theory that the police are entitled to be safe while enforcing the law and that a search is necessary to confirm that the person arrested has no weapons. The second is the idea that the police have an obligation to preserve evidence. A search conducted immediately after an arrest prevents the arrested person from destroying or hiding evidence. These lawful searches extend to personal belongings (such as a backpack) and to a vehicle if the person was arrested after driving or was in a vehicle when arrested. However, locked or secured personal belongings — such as a locked briefcase — and compartments — like a trunk or locked glove box — cannot be searched without a search warrant. This is consistent with the idea of police safety and preserving evidence. If the personal belongings or compartments are locked, then the contents thereof are not an immediate danger to the police even if weapons are inside and the accused cannot destroy any evidence that may be inside.

Another major exception is search-by-consent. That is, a search is lawful if the person consents to the search. To start, NEVER consent to a search. Never, ever. You have a natural law right to be free from unreasonable searches by the police and the government and this right is preserved by both the federal and Maryland Constitutions. Do NOT waive your rights.

Note that the police are taught to be tricky when they seek consent to a search. They never say something like: “Do you hereby waive your constitutional rights and consent to a search?” No, they say things like:

  • “I am going to check your pockets, is that okay?” — if you say “yes,” you have consented to a search
  • “What’s in the trunk? Do you mind if I look?” — if you say “no,” you have consented to a search
  • “You don’t mind, do you, if I look in your bag?” — same

Sometimes silence can be considered consent, so speak up and say: “I do NOT consent to a search.” Further, in some cases, you can consent by action. So, the police might say: “Pop the trunk so I can look inside.” If you hit the button that will open the trunk, the police can argue that you consented — by your actions — to the search of the trunk. So, do NOT hit the button, but say “NO, I do not consent to a search of my trunk!”

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301) 705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD Criminal Defense lawyers. Our address is 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD 20601.