Was The Evidence Against You Obtained Illegally?
A major component of criminal defense work is protecting the privacy rights of clients. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects all of us from “unreasonable search and seizure” by law enforcement. This means that with few exceptions, police cannot conduct a search for evidence or seize people/property without a warrant or probable cause.
Michael J. Stachowski P.C. regularly challenges the admissibility of evidence when we suspect it was obtained illegally. If it appears that that the search and seizure was unreasonable, we will file a motion to have the evidence suppressed, which could be enough to derail the prosecution’s case.
Below is some important information about your rights in New York.
Expectations Of Privacy Vary Based On Location
The place where you have the greatest protection against illegal search and seizure is in your home. Numerous U.S. Supreme Court rulings have upheld the right to privacy in the home, particularly when it comes to law enforcement actions. In most cases, a warrant is required to conduct any kind of search or seizure.
Search of a business also generally requires a warrant because it is private property. However, if the business is open to the public, police may have more opportunity to justify a warrantless search, claiming that evidence of a crime was in “plain view” or that evidence was discovered while responding to what appeared to be an emergency (such as suspicious loud noises from a back room) however, there must be a reasonable basis to the wantonness intrusion of the protected area. Absent “exigent” circumstances.
Searches of your person, or “pat down” searches, are limited in scope. Usually, officers can only check for weapons or contraband. They cannot demand that you unlock your cellphone, for instance. And even then, only through a four-step approach requiring different proof for various intrusions. For instance, you can’t be approached by a cop on the street and asked do you have drugs, or do you have a gun?
Car Searches Pose Numerous Problems
Automobile searches are among the most controversial in criminal law. Even though our vehicles are private property, they are used on public roadways, which means that both vehicle occupants and some of the car’s contents are in plain view. Nonetheless, courts have held that the interior of a car is typically subject to Fourth Amendment protections.
Vehicle searches are also worthy of scrutiny because they almost always begin with a traffic stop that then escalates, through questioning or officer observations, to a search. For the search to be considered reasonable and legal, all aspects of the encounter must be considered reasonable or justifiable, including the reason for the stop, the questions asked and the specific suspicions behind the search.
The sad truth is that many vehicle searches (and the traffic stops leading up to them) can be traced back to racial profiling youth driving in a suspicious area, or, other illegal bias. those often, cannot withstand scrutiny in court, which is why it is so important to get through the initial interaction as safely as possible and to then seek the help of an aggressive criminal defense attorney. If stopped, you should comply with the officer’s commands while making it clear that you do not consent to a search of your vehicle.
Discuss Your Rights With An Experienced Attorney
Protections against illegal search and seizure are guaranteed nationally by the Constitution, but how these protections apply in certain cases (particularly related to cars) varies by state. Our attorney has in-depth knowledge about both statutes and case law here in New York, and we are ready to help you challenge the legality and legitimacy of any search and seizure incident.
Call our office at 716-824-5353 or send us an email to learn more.