Bergen County Search Incident to Arrest Lawyers

NJ Illegal Search & Seizure Attorneys

Once an individual is placed under arrest, the arresting officer will attempt to try and search you and your belongings in hope of finding further incriminating evidence that they can use against you. However, their are strict procedures which the arresting officer must follow before they are allowed to search you and your property incident to an arrest. Therefore, it is imperative that you understand the proper procedures which the officers must follow before a search incident to arrest can be considered valid. Furthermore, it is also important to understand what the consequences for an unlawful search and seizure are. Under New Jersey law, all evidence either found from or derived from an illegal search is inadmissible in a court of law, therefore, an unlawful search can be the difference between an acquittal and a conviction.

Search of arrestee’s motor vehicle after the arrestee is no longer in motor vehicle:

If an individual is has been arrested as a result of a traffic stop before the arresting officer can search the inside of your vehicle, they must follow certain procedures.   An officer is not allowed to conduct a warrantless search of a motor vehicle based solely on the arrest of an occupant, provided that occupant has been removed from the motor vehicle and is secured in the officer’s custody. Therefore, once an individual is handcuffed and removed from the vicinity of the motor vehicle, the arresting officer is prohibited from going back into the vehicle and searching it for other incriminating evidence.  As a result, if the police wanted to search the vehicle for other incriminating evidence, they must follow the proper procedures, meaning they must obtain a valid search warrant from a judge.

Search of the arrestee incident to a lawful arrest:

A search incident to a valid arrest differs drastically from a search of a motor vehicle incident to arrest. An individual’s privacy rights are substantially diminished once you are placed under arrest. Any containers that are in the possession and control of an individual at the time of his or her arrest are subject to search by the arresting officer, provided there was a valid arrest. However, before an officer can conduct a search incident to arrest, they must satisfy certain procedural requirement. First, the arresting officer needs to be making a lawful arrest, meaning they must have probable cause to arrest the individual. Further, the probable cause must exist prior to the search in question. Secondly, the search must be immediately following the arrest. Therefore, any delay in the search could lead to an invalid search. Lastly, the search must be no broader then the defendant’s immediate area, meaning an area in which the defendant could reasonably be believed to gain access to a weapon or destroy evidence. For example, if the arrest occurs in one room in your house, the officers may not enter other rooms throughout the house searching for other incriminating evidence. Additionally, other valid arguments can be made on searches within the same room, where there is no plausible way for the defendant to gain access to.  In conclusion, for an officer to be conducting a valid search incident to arrest, they must first be making a lawful arrest, secondly, the search must occur immediately following the said arrest, and lastly the search was contained to the immediate surrounding area in which the suspect could have gained access to a weapon or destroyed evidence.

Bergen County NJ Illegal Search Defense Attorneys

Unfortunately, a search incident to arrest, just like every other search and seizure issue, can be very complex and confusing. Further, as we all know the police do make mistakes, and do fail to follow the proper procedures. Therefore, it is imperative that you to seek legal guidance on these very complex issues, since the consequences of an illegal search and seizure can and most of the times are monumental to your chances of acquittal and even dismissal of charges. If you have any further questions please contact any one of our Bergen County Offices at 1-800-682-4037 for a free initial consultation with one of our  experienced attorneys on staff.