In New York, it can be difficult to know how to manage a case involving a potentially illegal search by the police. It is important to understand the rights that people have, the limits to searches that the police can conduct and what happens if they do conduct an illegal search.
The police are limited by the Fourth Amendment in terms of what they can do. They are not permitted to simply search anyone or any location. For a regular search, the police require your consent. For example, if the police pull you over, then they must get your consent if they wish to search your car. The police might try to mislead you about their ability to search, but they cannot do it without your consent, and any evidence they find without your consent cannot be admitted in court. The exception is if evidence or suspicious items are in “plain view” of the officers. In that case, there is no expectation of privacy, so the Fourth Amendment does not apply.
If the police want to carry out a search without the consent of the owner of a car, house or other location, they need a warrant. Warrants are specific and limited, and there are only a few exceptions. Warrants also govern the use of surveillance equipment like drones, listening devices and so on.
Knowing your rights in a criminal defense case
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the police are required by law and by the Constitution to abide by requirements and restrictions. Breaking those rules means that they cannot use any illegally seized evidence in a case against you.