Consent Laws in San Diego

Normally, probable cause or a warrant is necessary for police officers to perform a search. However, the police can still search your possessions if you give them Consent.

Basically, consent is an exception to your 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Consent can be expressed or implied. An expressed consent would be verbally saying “yes” or “I consent.” Head nods and affirmative answers in different languages are also expressed consent.

Implied Consent can be given in many ways, often accidentally. These are the various ways implied consent can be given.

  • Placing your hands on your head when you were not asked to.
  • Making gestures that may be interpreted as beckoning.
  • Stepping aside in a doorway as if to let someone in.
  • Going with police officers to a police station voluntarily.

Scope of Consent, is how much your consent allows the law enforcement to search. Scope of Consent is governed by reasonableness. The scope of consent is based on what a reasonable person would understand from the exchange between the officer seeking permission and person giving consent.

A person may place limitations on their consent. For example, “You can search this bag and this bag only.” Also, a person can withdraw their consent at any time. However, if a police officer develops probable cause to continue the search the withdrawn consent does not stop him.

Granted consent gives the police officer permission to multiple searches of the consented object. Consent to search a dwelling does not always give permission to search containers in the dwelling, especially if there are multiple occupants in that dwelling. Also, a parent can give permission for police officers to search their child’s possessions. Overall, consent must be given in a manner that is free and voluntary. Consent should not be given under submission to authority.

In cases where one person gives consent to something but another person does not give consent to the same item. The decision then falls onto the law enforcement to decide who has apparent authority. Also, police officers take into account the decision of a person to give their possession to someone else, knowing that they may give consent for searches of said item.



This blog was researched and written by legal Intern Noah Basil and approved by Attorney Michael Runkle of Seneca Law Group. It is meant to be informational in nature and is not intended as legal advice. If you have a legal question or need advice please call Seneca Law Group today at (619) 630-8529 or e-mail us at today. We would be happy to set up a free consultation with you and answer any and all questions you have.

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