We recently came across a Facebook post where someone described an interesting encounter she had the police. Here’s what happened:
While we love our men in uniform, it can be a pretty scary and cumbersome thing to go through. And if you’re the kinda person who tends to say “What about my rights?!” a lot, you probably got a little riled up while reading that story.
But, situations like this begs a few important questions. “What are the powers of the police?”, “What are my rights in such situations?”, and most importantly “Can the police legally search my car like that”. We’re here to tell you…
The PDRM can search your car like that
When enforcement authorities want to do something (like stop and search someone, or enter into a private residence), they can only do so if the law permits. If there’s no law allowing it, they’d be acting beyond their powers – basically acting illegally.
So with regards to police searching vehicles, there’s actually a law on the matter. Following Section 24(1)(b) of the Police Act 1984:
Therefore it’s quite safe to say that the police can legally search your car, but they must have reasons to suspect that your car was involved in a crime. So for example if the PDRM received info that a red Myvi was the get away car in a robbery and you drive a red Myvi, they may have legit grounds to search your car.
This basically means that, it’s best to politely ask the officers why they’re searching your car. Also at the same time while you ask them that question, they’re probably gonna ask you some questions too. According to the RED BOOK (a book containing basic rights of citizens when dealing with the PDRM), in a normal situation the PDRM can only ask you for your “name and address”. You’re not obliged to answer any other question.
However if you’re car is being searched because they’re investigating a crime, they may want to ask you questions and take down your statements. In such situations, Section 112 of the Criminal Procedure Code says that you must answer all the questions the PDRM asks you – unless your answer may expose you to a criminal offence (if you wanna find out more about what this means, click our link below).
But if you still feel you’ve been wronged
Enforcement authorities are humans too, so it’s possible they can mistakes when trying to enforce the law. The problem is, sometimes this can cause citizens to have their rights violated. So what you can do is stand near your car and watch how the officers conduct the search. More likely than not, the officers itself would ask you stand nearby. But of course the situation is different if they arrest you.
So if you ever feel like you have been wronged by the PDRM, you may not have to worry so much because they have an online platform for complaints. All you have to do is file in your complaint here.