What to do when the cop threatens to “call the dog” to search your car

So you’ve been pulled over in NY for speeding, and for one reason or another the cop decides to go on a fishing expedition looking for drugs. Classic police questioning that indicates he’s bating his hook are statements such as:

  • Where you coming from / going to (seems friendly enough, but beware never trust in cop small talk)
  • Do you have anything in the car that I should know about (of course, the LAST THING a cop should “know about” in your vehicle is contraband, so the answer is “no”)
  • I can smell marijuana (even if he can, don’t panic)
  • What kind of work do you do / where do you go to school

The FIRST THING that you do when the cop starts with lines of questioning irrelevant to the nature of the stop, your license, the vehicle’s registration or insurance status, be on guard! Believe me, the cop is not exchanging pleasantries. He is gathering information to then twist, intimidate you with, use against you, and generally manipulate you with, much like a narcissist or sociopath does.

The thing to remember is that you NEVER have to answer ANY cop’s questions at ANY time. All you have to do when pulled over is give the cop your license, registration, and insurance card and that’s it. However, we are all human it is hard to sit mute when being asked questions. If the cop asks a question like “is the car registered” it’s okay to simply say “yes,” or even “no” if it’s not, because the cop is going to run your plate anyhow. However, even when answering a question related to the stop, remember to never elaborate and don’t go down their road of Q & A. When this happens, simply say “officer, I don’t want to answer any questions,” and if they ask why just say “officer, I don’t answer questions.”

When they ask questions OUTSIDE of the scope the stop, you NEVER answer questions. Simply say “officer, I don’t care to discuss my personal life / day / whereabouts / where I am going / where I was.” If they persist, just say “officer, I don’t answer questions.”

Doing this will result in one of 2 things: the cop backing off, or the cop getting angry. If the cop escalates, it will probably be a request to search your car. NEVER give consent to search. ALWAYS say “officer, I don’t consent to searches.”

It is at this point that the truly aggressive cop will intimidate you with something like “if you don’t let me search, I am going to call the dog, and if the dog finds anything it will be WAY WORSE!!!!”

Whatever you do, don’t fall for it! The cop is just trying to intimidate you. First off, the cop is probably bluffing. Cops don’t have the time or resources to “call a dog.” For the cop to actually have the ability to “call the dog,” a canine cop must be on patrol nearby and working the same shift. Cops need to get on a stop and then clear the stop. They don’t have all day to “call a dog,” even if a canine cop were on patrol in their department and in the area.

But, what if there is a canine cop in the area, or your “officer friendly” is the canine cop. Would it be “way worse” if the dog finds it then if you rat yourself out – NO! You have a constitutional right to remain silent and to not consent to a search, which means that it is not an aggravating factor that you did not consent to a search.

In fact, if you don’t consent and the dog finds something it will be way BETTER for you. This is because the cop needs probable cause to search your car, even with a dog, if you do not give consent. If you followed the rule of not answering the cop’s questions, they likely did not have the requisite probable cause, and as such your lawyer can get the evidence suppressed from trial and the case dismissed. Contrast with a consent search, the cop did not need probable cause, so any contraband they find was properly seized and will not be suppressed from evidence.

Even if the cop states that they smell marijuana, don’t consent to a search. In many states, the smell of marijuana, with nothing more, does not give the police probable cause to search. And, even if it does again, DON’T consent! You get no legal benefit from consenting to a search, and a consent search only makes the state’s case stronger.

If you or someone you know has been charged with possession of marijuana and have any questions or concerns, give us a call. We talk to people all day, every day regarding their traffic and criminal charges, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have!