Bergen County Illegal Search Defense Attorneys

Was my consent to search valid?

When individuals are approached by Bergen County police officer’s they often panic and when confronted with the question “Can we search you or your belongings” feel they have no other option but to say yes. People routinely say yes, knowing full well, that there is something illegal concealed in either their persons or belongings.  Therefore, it is important to understand you have the right to say “no”, and the officer(s) must inform you of that option. Often time the police might try and coerce an individual into consenting to the search, this is type of conduct is impermissible. The police must follow certain procedural guidelines before a court can conclude that the consent in question, was in fact valid. If the court concluded at a suppression hearing that consent was not properly attained, then the evidence received must be suppressed (i.e. cannot be used against you at trial). Having evidence suppressed can have a significant effect on the likely hood of gaining a favorable decision. The Law Offices of Marshall, Bonus, Proetta & Oliveris an experienced Bergen County Criminal Defense Firm. We have been fighting to protect individual rights in towns like Palisades Interstate Park, Garfield, Lodi, Bogota and Paramus for over fifteen years. Here is some important information when it comes the validity of a consent to search in New Jersey

Consent to a search, not including motor vehicles:

An individual may consent to a search of his or her persons or property. If they do, they will be forfeiting their right to privacy. However, under the New Jersey Constitution, for consent to be considered valid for search and seizure purposes, the state must show that the individual both voluntarily consented to the search and that he or she knew of their right to refuse to give consent to the search.

If there is an issue with the aforementioned requirement, a defendant would need to file a suppression motion, whereby they are seeking to have the evidence deemed inadmissible (unable to be used at trial).  To prove the consent was voluntary, the state must show by clear and positive testimony that consent was freely, knowingly, and voluntarily given. Also, the state must prove that the defendant was aware that he or she had a right to refuse to grant consent for the search. The state will try to prove that the individual was aware of their right of refusal by providing: a written consent to search form, videotape evidence or direct testimony from the arresting officer. Keeping in mind that the proofs only require knowledge to refuse on the part of the defendant, it does not require that the officer(s) to actually informed the defendant of this important right.

Consent to search involving a motor vehicle:

An additional requirement is added when the officer(s) gained consent to search a motor vehicle, following a routine traffic stop. For the consent to be found valid the state must show that the individual both voluntarily consented to the search, that he or she knew of their right to refuse to give consent to the search and the officer(s) must have at least an articulable suspicion that evidence of crime or contraband may be found in the vehicle.

The additional requirement: proving that the request was based upon a reasonable and articulable suspicion that evidence of a crime or contraband could be found within the motor vehicle will be proved by both direct and circumstantial evidence. The courts will make a determination based on the totality of the circumstances prior to the search whether or no the officer had a reasonable articulable suspicion.  If the state is not able to produce clear and positive proofs on both of these issues in the motor vehicle context the incriminating evidence, seized from the search, which was based upon the consent of the defendant must be suppressed. Since, the suppression of the evidence is based on the factual events surrounding the incident, it is important to speak to a specialized criminal attorney.

Bergen County Criminal Defense Lawyer

If after reading this brief description, you feel that you have consented to a search which was in violation of your rights, please feel free to contact any one of our Bergen County Offices at 1-800-682-4037 and we would be happy to assist you in any way possible.  Remember the suppression of evidence could be the difference between conviction and acquittal.