An allegation without evidence is baseless, and for that reason when New Jersey prosecutors plan to charge individuals with alleged criminal activity, they need to know that their actions will be supported with data, facts, and other corroborating information. Much of this information is collected through police searches and the seizure of property. When law enforcement officials wish to search and seize the property of a private citizen they must have a reason to do so or a warrant that justifies their actions.
For example, if a law enforcement official makes a traffic stop and sees illegal drugs in the vehicle of the person they have stopped, they may seize that evidence of illegal conduct since it was in their plain view. However, a law enforcement official who stops a speeder may not go through the driver’s car and look for illegal drugs if they have no reason to believe that such contraband is present.
Additionally, law enforcement officials who wish to execute searches may need to secure warrants; a search warrant is signed off by a judge who believes that the officers have probable cause to undertake a search for evidence of illegal conduct. If officers search a person or their residence without a warrant or probable cause, the evidence they find may be thrown out as inadmissible in the individual’s criminal trial.
This brief overview of search and seizure illegality is not intended to be read as legal advice. Rather, it is offered to introduce readers to the important protections that are in place to keep them safe from illegal police actions and the violation of their Constitutional rights. Criminal defense attorneys can offer more support on this important legal topic.