09 Oct Illegal Police Searches – Can They Get Away with That
If you’re left scratching your head and wondering, “How can they get away with that?” after having your body or your property searched for drugs, you’re not alone.New York laws on police searches can be pretty confusing, and it’s up to your lawyer to find out whether the police who searched you broke the law or violated your rights.
Which Police Searches Are Legal in New York?
Just like on television, New York police can search you if they arrest you; in fact, they have to in order to protect themselves. If they happen to find drugs during that search, then you can expect to be charged with possession.
The police are also allowed to search you when:
- You give your consent. When an officer says, “Do you mind if I have a look in your trunk?” and you say, “Go ahead,” you’re giving consent. (For the record, you can—and probably always should—say, “No. Let me talk to my lawyer first.”)
- They see something illegal in plain sight. If the police see a crack pipe in your vehicle’s cup holder when they pull you over for a traffic violation, you’ve given them reason to believe there’s crack somewhere in your car. They’re legally allowed to search at that point.
Illegal Police Searches and Your 4th Amendment Rights
The U.S. Constitution guarantees that you’re safe from unreasonable searches; it’s in the Fourth Amendment. That means they can’t just stop you on the street and frisk you for no reason or kick in your door because they feel like tossing things around – if they could, we’d all consider that living in a police state.
If you’ve been searched, your lawyer is going to figure out if the police violated your rights in any way. This is really important, because if they did violate your rights or break the law, the things that they found may not be allowed to be used as evidence against you.
Above all, if a police officer asks you if he or she can search anything, including your body, your car or your home, please tell him that he does not have your consent. You have the right to demand that he produce a warrant signed by a judge, so use it. While the police are working on that warrant, call your lawyer so he can ensure that they don’t overstep their bounds.
This is a transcription of an interview with James Medows.