When police perform a search of a car or residence, they look for evidence indicating a crime. Finding drugs or stolen property in a New Jersey home might lead to the property owner facing criminal charges. If the search turns out to be illegal, the evidence may never become admissible in court, though. Law enforcement must follow the Constitution and the law when conducting searches.
Legal searches, warrants, and probable cause
A warrant is usually necessary to perform a search. A judge signs off on a warrant after the police provide compelling evidence that the probe could uncover evidence of a crime. Warrants have limitations, though. Police might find themselves limited to the specific scope of a particular warrant.
Police may perform a search if they have probable cause. If the police pull a vehicle over and smell methamphetamine smoke, a search may prove justified. The same could be accurate when meeting someone at a home’s front door. However, performing a search based on vague suspicions of drug use might not stand up in court.
Emergencies may eliminate the need for a warrant. Upon hearing the sounds of what is likely a violent crime, police might break down a house’s door to enter and arrest the perpetrator.
Consent and concerns about searches
Someone may give consent to a search, eliminating the need for both probable cause or a warrant. Regrettably, some become nervous in police presence and agree to a search out of fear. Upon delivering ill-advised consent for a search, serious legal troubles might follow.
When police use coercion or other underhanded actions to procure “consent,” the search might be an illegal one. Unfortunately, the defendant might need to prove the police committed unlawful acts.
Evidence procured from an illegal search may end up being excluded. A case would likely fall apart when the jury never sees or hears the prime evidence. A drug possession case won’t go anywhere when the contraband can’t be entered into evidence.
A criminal defense attorney may review the evidence against a client. If it appears the police procured the evidence illegally, an attorney could file a motion to suppress it.