Bergen County NJ Search and Seizure Lawyers

Individuals Rights in Abandoned Property in Hackensack NJ

In New Jersey, just like in every other state, police officers must follow strict procedures when it comes to search and seizures. However, there are certain exceptions which would allow officer(s) to avoid the strict procedural guidelines, for example abandoned property. If the property is abandoned, an officer(s) may seize that property without an accompanying search warrant.  Although it seems simple at first glance, abandoned property may turn into a very complex issue, in which the assistance of a well experienced attorney will be beneficial. The Law Offices of Marshall, Bonus, Proetta & Oliverhas been representing individuals in towns like Bogota, Montvale, Little Ferry, Hackensack and Fair Lawn for over fifteen years. Our team of eight criminal defense attorneys has the knowledge and skill set necessary to successfully protect your rights.

Under New Jersey law, any property which is considered abandoned may be seized by law enforcement without a search warrant. This consists of both personal and real property (i.e. a house). Here is an example of how abandoned property can become an issue in a criminal case: a suspect is being chased by the police and while attempting to elude the police he discards something in hopes of not being caught with that item in his possession. Is the property considered abandoned? May the arresting officer seize the discarded item with a valid search warrant? Most likely yes. However, if it is later determined that the arrest of that individual was unlawful, then the item which was considered abandoned is no longer admissible and it must be suppressed. In its simplest form, if law enforcement had no legal right to arrest you, then the item you discarded must be held inadmissible.

Those aspects seem simple and easy enough to understand. However, at second glance what does abandoned mean? What needs to occur before property can be considered abandoned? These can often be complicated, fact driven, determinations, in which an experienced attorney might come in hand. Although, the issue of whether the property has been abandoned turns on the intent of the suspect, it is more accurately decided on the basis of facts surrounding the incident. Whenever a critical issue, such as the one at hand, boils down to a fact sensitive determination, it is important that you seek an experienced Bergen County Criminal Attorney’s opinion on the mater.

In addition, under New Jersey law, the police may seize containers of garbage left for collection without first obtaining a search warrant. However, an officer is required to obtain a valid search warrant, which is based on probable cause before they may conduct a search of the contents of the garbage containers.

Bergen County NJ Illegal Search Defense Attorneys

So, as you can tell what appeared to be a very cut and dry topic, can turn into a very complex legal issue. Therefore, we strongly recommend that if an issue arises about whether the property was in fact abandoned, you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Keep in mind; if evidence is determined to be found as a result of an illegal search and seizure, then the evidence will be inadmissible at trial. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact any one of our Bergen County Offices at 1-800-682-4037 for a free initial consultation with any one of our eight criminal defense attorneys on staff.