N.J. Supreme Court Upholds Rights In Warrantless Police Car Searches

Criminal Lawyer Elizabeth NJ
Rispoli & Borneo P.C.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that police cannot search motorists’ cars without a warrant unless the circumstances prompting suspicion were “unforeseeable and spontaneous.” Justice Douglas Fasciale emphasized New Jersey’s constitution’s greater protection against unreasonable searches and seizures compared to the Fourth Amendment. This decision upheld lower court rulings that suppressed evidence from a warrantless car search in 2021 in Ocean County. The decision could impact your criminal case; talk to your Elizabeth, NJ, criminal lawyer about whether this decision affects presentation of evidence in your case.

The case involved Kyle A. Smart, whom Toms River police arrested after finding drugs, weapons, and ammunition in his car. Officers had surveilled Smart following reports of drug activity and an informant’s tip linking him to a drug dealer named “Killer.” Despite Smart’s refusal to consent to a search, officers called in a police canine, which signaled the presence of drugs, establishing probable cause.

Fasciale ruled that the circumstances leading to probable cause were not “unforeseeable or spontaneous.” He highlighted that the officers suspected criminal activity from the outset and should have obtained a warrant. The trial judge and appellate court had declared the evidence inadmissible due to the lack of a search warrant, a decision Fasciale affirmed.

Smart’s attorney sought his release from prison following the ruling, which a judge granted. Yannone anticipates the state will dismiss the charges, emphasizing the victory for motorists’ privacy rights in New Jersey.

Victim Of A Warrantless Search? An Elizabeth, NJ, Criminal Lawyer Can Help

Was your home, vehicle, or person searched without a warrant? If so, seek legal assistance promptly. A warrantless search violates your constitutional rights, and you may be entitled to legal recourse. An experienced Elizabeth criminal lawyer can provide invaluable guidance and representation to protect your rights and seek justice.

Warrantless searches occur when law enforcement conducts a search without obtaining a warrant from a judge. These searches are only permissible in limited circumstances, such as when there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is present and exigent circumstances require immediate action to prevent the destruction of evidence or to address a threat to public safety.

It’s not unusual for police to overstep their bounds and conduct unlawful warrantless searches. This could include searching your home, vehicle, or person without a valid warrant or probable cause. If you believe you’ve been subjected to an unlawful warrantless search, it’s essential to take action to protect your rights.

Ask an experienced criminal defense attorney to review the details of your case, assess the legality of the search, and determine if your constitutional rights were violated. They can advocate on your behalf, challenging the admissibility of any evidence obtained through the unlawful search and seeking to have it suppressed in court.

Have You Been Arrested? We’re Here To Protect Your Rights – Call Today!

Your rights are worth protecting. The legal team at Rispoli & Borneo P.C. helps ensure they haven’t been violated by an overzealous police officer. Call our offices today for a consultation.