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What you should know about illegal search and seizure in NY state

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Illegal Search & Seizure

In theory, both the federal Constitution and New York state law protect individuals against overreaches of government authority. The Fourth Amendment protects those in the United States from unreasonable searches and seizures. New York state law reaffirms that Constitutional right.

Police officers have to respect the rights of an individual and follow certain rules when conducting searches as part of a criminal investigation. Typically, they need to have permission from an individual, a warrant or probable cause to conduct a legal search. Otherwise, the decision to search an individual or their private property, such as their residence or vehicle, could be illegal.

What do people need to know about illegal searches in New York?

Illegal searches are a common issue

Police officers typically know the limitations of their authority but may assume that individuals do not understand their rights. They may then try to steamroll over individuals by bullying them or manipulating them into tolerating abuses of their rights. If officers cannot trick someone into waiving their rights, they may try to fabricate an excuse for searching them anyway. Questions about the legality of police searches are common after individuals get arrested or charged with crimes. The courts frequently hear cases where the legality of a search is one of the key elements of the defense strategy.

Illegal searches can compromise the state’s case

Although an illegal search might give prosecutors more evidence, they may not be able to use that evidence during a trial. The exclusionary rule allows a criminal defense attorney to alert the courts to the rights violations or illegal activity of police officers when defending a client. The courts may then have to exclude the improperly-obtained evidence from the criminal proceedings. Prosecutors cannot use evidence obtained via an illegal search when bringing charges against a defendant in New York.

Proof of an illegal search could play a key role in someone’s criminal defense strategy. Additionally, the people affected by a violation of their rights may have grounds to raise questions about police misconduct.  Realizing that an illegal search can lead to the dismissal of charges or a viable defense strategy can potentially give people the courage to fight their pending charges.