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Search and Seizure Frequently Asked Questions

One moment, you’re driving down the road and the next, you’re pulled over with a police officer now searching your vehicle. Whether or not you have any reason to be concerned, you are likely to have many questions about the legality of this situation.

These are a few of the most common questions regarding search and seizures, specifically in the state of New Jersey. We're going to answer them below.

What Does the Fourth Amendment Cover?

The Fourth Amendment protects residents from unlawful searches and seizures from police officers. It is not always easy to determine what constitutes something as unlawful. But, if the officer does not have a search warrant or just cause, then it might be considered unlawful, therefore, making it illegal.

When Is a Search Warrant Needed?

In most cases, police officers require a search warrant to search someone’s property. A search warrant is a document that comes from the court after the police officer demonstrates probable cause that a crime has been committed and that they think that by searching the property, they will uncover important details or evidence about the crime.

The search warrant will determine the location in which the police officer is allowed to search, as well as the specific items that they are looking for.

What Are the Exceptions to the Rule?

There are some legal exceptions in which a vehicle or property can be searched without a search warrant. These exceptions include:

  • Consent: If the property owner or driver consents to the search, then it is considered to be legal
  • Plain view: If an item is in plain view, without the officer having to enter a property or vehicle, they can seize the property
  • Lawful arrest: If an individual is arrested for another reason and the police officer uncovers an illegal item when searching the individual, they do not need a warrant to seize the item
  • Stop & frisk: Police officers can legally stop and frisk an individual as long as they reasonably believe that they have committed a crime

Do the Same Property Laws Protect My Vehicle?

It is important to note that vehicles do not always follow the same search and seizure laws as personal property. As long as an officer reasonably believes that there is a reason to search the vehicle, they can do so. This exception is due to the fact that a vehicle can flee if a warrant is not received fast enough. This could also include exceptions to the law due to emergencies or a hot pursuit.

What if I Believe I Was Illegally Searched?

If you believe that your charges came after being illegally searched or seized, then you will want to discuss your case with a lawyer. A lawyer can look at the details of the arrest and the evidence collected and determine what the next best steps are. Otherwise, any evidence that is collected through a warrant or exception to the warrant rule can be used against you.

If you were improperly searched or seized, it is important that you reach out to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Criminal Charges in Trenton

Were you arrested or charged with criminal charges in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at the Davis Law Firm, LLC have successfully represented clients charged with criminal charges in Hamilton, Trenton, Ewing, Lawrence, and throughout New Jersey. Call 609-587-9100 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 2653 Nottingham Way, Hamilton, NJ 08619.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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