The Asheville Police Department has updated its existing Search and Seizure policy to incorporate the use of a written consent form to ensure that residents have a full understanding of their rights regarding consent-based searches.
In addition, the written consent form provides specific language informing individuals of their constitutional right to decline to give consent. The exact language contained on the form is:
I understand that I have a constitutional right to refuse consent for this search. I give consent to conduct this search knowingly, intelligently and freely, without any coercion or threats of any kind made against me, or promises made to me. I understand any evidence of a crime discovered during this search may be seized and used against me.
Lastly, following a consent-based search, body worn camera footage and related documentation are reviewed by supervisors to ensure that policies and procedures were followed.
Here are some questions and answers provided by the City’s website.
What is a consent search?
Consent searches are lawful, warrantless searches made by law enforcement officers based on the voluntary consent of an individual to the search.
How do I provide consent?
You may provide consent by verbal agreement or by signing a form granting permission to search your vehicle or premises. Your verbal agreement must be recorded on a body worn camera and documented on the Consent to Search form.
Do I have to provide consent to search? What happens if I don’t?
No, you do not have to provide a police officer with consent to search. If you do not provide consent, the officers will not conduct a search and will note non-consent on the form.
Can I withdraw consent?
Yes, you can withdraw consent at any time. If consent is withdrawn, absent the development of probable cause prior to the withdrawal of consent, the officer will immediately stop the search.
You’re probably wondering, what is probable cause?
Probable cause is reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, or that a place contains evidence of a crime. Under the Fourth Amendment, probable cause is required to obtain a search or arrest warrant, or to conduct certain warrantless searches or arrests.
The Written Consent to Search form is available in Spanish and Ukranian.
This policy was presented at the Public Safety Committee meeting on Oct. 31, 2019. All officers will attend informational meetings on the new consent to search procedures.
Additional opportunities for community members to learn more about the consent to search policy and ask questions are forthcoming.