Atlantic County Criminal Attorney Provides Search and Seizure Defense
When police pull you over or approach you because they suspect wrongdoing, you have to comply with their reasonable requests. You do not, however, have to give up your Fourth Amendment Rights. Unlawful or unreasonable search & seizure should not be tolerated. However, in the course of trying to do their jobs, sometimes police do overstep their bounds.
If you believe a law enforcement officer searched you without a warrant or without having a good reason for searching you, and you have a property that has been improperly seized, you need to speak up and hire a criminal defense lawyer who will explain your rights and protect your interests in court.
John W. Tumelty is a former state prosecutor and a former Atlantic County prosecutor with 30 years of criminal experience. He understands the criminal justice system on both sides, which gives him a huge edge when challenging the evidence in your case. Mr. Tumelty knows that evidence taken from you in an illegal search can be tossed out of court. He will use his experience to file a motion to suppress evidence if the police conducted an unlawful search and seizure by failing to obtain proper search warrants.
NJ Police Must Follow Procedure When Seizing Evidence in Drug Cases
If the police have reason to believe that you committed a crime, they may be able to search you without a warrant. However, in most situations, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This means that the police in Atlantic and Cape May counties, and throughout South Jersey, typically need a warrant in order to search you or your property.
The police may be allowed to conduct a warrantless search when circumstances are such that immediate action is required. Common exceptions to the warrant requirement include:
- Consent search: If you consent to a search, the police do not need a warrant. However, your consent must be voluntary and the scope of the search cannot exceed that which was consented to. Additionally, the police still need probable cause to request consent for a search in the first place.
- House search: The police must have a search warrant before entering a person’s home to search for evidence. There are exceptions to this rule when police respond to an emergency situation such as a domestic violence call or to provide medical assistance to someone inside.
- Automobile search: The police must have a search warrant to search your car for evidence. There is an exception to the warrant requirement when the police have probable cause and exigent circumstances. A court will look at several factors in deciding whether a warrantless car search is valid, including the location of the stop, number of occupants, the time of day or night, and the circumstances justifying the car stop.
- Hot pursuit: If the police pursue a suspect who flees a crime scene, they do not need a warrant to continue the pursuit.
- Evidence in plain view: There is no reasonable expectation of privacy when you place evidence in plain view. However, the evidence must be immediately recognizable as being potentially illicit or related in some way to criminal activity. Additionally, if the police search exceeds the boundaries of that which is in “plain view,” all of the evidence may be inadmissible in court.
- Exigent circumstances: When the police have a reasonable belief that public safety is at risk or that the evidence will soon disappear or be destroyed, they may be allowed to conduct a warrantless search.
- Search incident to arrest: Police must have an arrest warrant or probable cause to make a warrantless arrest. Police are allowed to pat down suspects when they have probable cause to arrest. The police are not allowed to search a car just because the driver is placed under arrest.
Experienced NJ Drug Crime Defense Lawyer Challenges NJ Law Enforcement Search & Seizure Techniques
Challenges to the admissibility of evidence are particularly common in cases involving drug charges like simple possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. If you were recently subjected to a search and seizure that you believe was unreasonable and unlawful, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you.
John Tumelty is a knowledgeable attorney who will hold law enforcement and prosecutors accountable for improper search and seizure techniques in Atlantic and Cape May counties. Among his impeccable credentials as a criminal defense attorney is certification as a New Jersey Supreme Court criminal trial attorney, a distinction held by less than two percent of all NJ attorneys. Call or email Mr. Tumelty today to arrange a free consultation at one of his office locations in Somers Point and Marmora.