How do courts determine if your consent to search was voluntary?

When people are pulled over for a traffic infraction in Jacksonville, police sometimes ask for the driver’s consent to search the vehicle. Often, the police write in their report that the driver consented to the search. In order for the search to be legal, the consent must be voluntary. The court must examine the “totality of the circumstances” when determining if a person’s consent to search was voluntary or coerced.

The prosecutor has the burden of showing that the consent was voluntary by a “preponderance of the evidence”. That means more likely than not, the consent was voluntary. That is a lower standard than the “reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases to determine guilt or innocence.

Some factors the court uses in determining whether consent was voluntary are:

1. Whether the person under arrest OR detained in Jacksonville.

2. The age of the person under arrest in Jacksonville.

3. The education level of the person under arrest.

4. The intelligence or medical condition of the suspect.

5. Whether or not the police threatened the person or coerced them.