Sunday, November 12, 2006

'Consent' lets Texas police move car, remove gas tank

Generalized consent to search a car in Texas apparently includes having to endure the officer choosing to move it to a different location to remove the gas tank. Montanez v. State, 2006 Tex. App. LEXIS 9751 (Tex. App.–Waco November 8, 2006), on remand from Montanez v. State, 195 S.W.3d 101, 109 (Tex. Crim. App. 2006) (decision on other grounds: standard of review).
Consent implies permission to remove the gas tank! Really? At a traffic stop? With no reasonable suspicion? What do the lawyers out there have to say about this?

The idea of being stopped for a traffic violation then finding yourself sitting around while police literally pull your car apart bolt by bolt - even though no one has reason to suspect you of a crime - sounds like the plot from a bad comedy movie come true. Where does such sweeping consent end?

The Texas Legislature in 2005, passed legislation requiring police to get consent to search either in written or recorded form. Governor Perry vetoed that bill, telling legislators to reconsider it in their interim committee deliberations, but here's an example of why it's needed: How many people realize when they give consent to search their car on the side of the road that the officer can move their vehicle to the impound lot and remove the gas tank!

No wonder fewer drivers consent to searches when consent must be given in writing: Who would sign a written consent form that gave police permission to do that?

BLOGVERSATION: See analysis from the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer.

1 comment:

800 pound gorilla said...

The question that pops immediately into my head [and wasn't addressed in the piece] is: did the police pay to reinstall the gas tank? Of course, if they did get a conviction they could get it from the criminal. But that gives them less "flexibility". That's what typifies abusive policies: they give the abuser maximum flexibility for themselves while they hold you hostage to their whims. They can - and do - literally change the rules as they go along and aren't required to follow them. I should know: I've dealt with them in my own household and elsewhere in my life.