What constitutes an illegal search of a minor?

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What constitutes an illegal search of a minor?

My nephew was riding his bike, obeying all laws, and was stopped by a police officer. The officer asked him for ID, which at 14 years of age, he does not have. Then the oficer asked to see in his backpack. He said no to the search but the cop searched anyways. My nephew was then arrested based on the contents of the bag. Was this search legal?

Asked on October 29, 2012 under Criminal Law, Minnesota

Answers:

Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

What makes a search and seizure illegal by the police is whether or not the police officer had probable cause to perform the search in the first place. In your nephew's case, the officer should have noticed that he was underage and may not have carried an I.D., however if your nephew failed to indentify himself by not giving the officer his name when questioned, then the officer had a right to detain him and even arrrest him (it is against the law to refuse an officer's request to identify yourself). This would have made the subsequent search of his bag ( a search incident to arrest) legal. As a criminal defense attorney, the contents found in the bag can still be argued as an illegal search because it appears that the officer had no clear reason to stop and question your nephew in the first place.


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