What Are My Rights During Search and Seizure?

judge signing paper

Even if the police suspect you of a crime, you still have the right to privacy. Cops cannot just search your property and hope that they will turn up some sort of evidence against you. If you think that your rights against illegal searches and seizures have been violated, a Bergen County, New Jersey criminal defense lawyer from our firm may be able to assist you.

When Can Police Search My Property?

Police can search your property if you give them permission. They have to ask for your consent and they cannot do it in a way that appears to trick or confuse you. If they do something sketchy in order to get consent to a search, that is an illegal search.

They can also search your property if they have a warrant. This requires them to go to a judge and show that they have probable cause. They need to have a good reason to suspect you of committing a crime and they need to show that a particular property of yours could hold evidence of said crime.

What Can They Search When They Have a Warrant?

When cops get a warrant, it is usually quite specific. A judge will rarely sign off on one if the cops say “We want to look through all of this suspect’s properties for anything illegal.” They can get a warrant to search a car for illegal drugs or weapons. They can get a warrant to search your garage for evidence that you are running a drug lab. They need to have some goal in mind with their search.

This is why we recommend that you do not give police the permission to search your property. A warrant is limited in scope, partly because it is designed to protect your rights against illegal search and seizure. If you just give the cops permission to explore your property, you are giving them a very long leash.

Do Cops Have Some Latitude When Performing a Search?

It is important to note that cops have a bit of latitude when they are performing a search with a warrant. They could have a warrant that allows them to dig around for certain illegal materials or evidence, but that does not mean that they ignore other things that they find. So if they are looking for a weapon used in an assault and instead find baggies of drugs in plain sight, they can use the drugs as evidence against the property’s occupant.

What Are Exigent Circumstances?

Cops can search without a warrant in some conditions. There must be “exigent circumstances” that appear to turn a situation into an emergency. Perhaps they see someone running off to dispose of evidence or hear gunshots and sounds of people in distress. In this scenario, they can break down a door and collect evidence without their actions being seen as an illegal seizure.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you are facing criminal charges, you should have someone on your side ready to fight for you. Contact the Law Office of E. Gregory M. Cannarozzi today. We are ready to help you stand up for your rights.

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