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Supreme court: police can be refused

The Supreme Court issued an important verdict, ruling that the search conducted by the police with the consent of the suspect is legal only if the Police explained to the suspect in advance that he has the right to refuse the police, and this will not have any unpleasant consequences for him.

Searches conducted without a court warrant, but "with the consent of the suspect," are common practice in Israel. It often happens when the evidence obtained during such searches is the only reason for charging. So it was in three cases that were brought before the Supreme Court today. The lawyers of the accused stated that the evidence obtained by the police during the "voluntary" searches was obtained illegally, since the suspects simply did not know that they had every right to refuse the search. In two cases, the Supreme Court accepted the defense and acquitted the defendants. One of them the police stopped when he was just walking down the street. Having checked the passer-by's identity card, the guards found out he had a criminal record and demanded from the man to show the contents of his pockets. The man obediently pulled a knife out of his pocket and was charged with illegally carrying weapons. In the second case, the police came to the suspect's house when only his mother was there, and expressed a desire to conduct a search in his son's room. The woman agreed, although there were no warrant for the police. During the search, a small dose of drugs was found, which became the basis for a criminal charge. Courts of the lower courts disagreed about these criminal cases: one instance issued an acquittal, the other - an accusatory verdict. The Supreme Court acquitted both of the accused, admitting that the evidence of their guilt was obtained illegally by the police. The representative of the state tried to prove to the Supreme Court that the request of the police officer to permit the search itself sufficiently clearly indicates to the suspect that it is a question of voluntary consent and he can of such consent not to give. Judges Dorit Beinisch, Edna Arbel and Joram Danziger rejected this logic and ruled that voluntary consent can be considered only if the suspect is explained that his refusal will not entail any negative consequences.


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