When an officer pulls a vehicle over or stops someone as they are walking on the sidewalk, they are only permitted to conduct a search of that person or their property if they have one of the following:
- A search warrant.
- Probable cause.
- Reasonable suspicion.
While most people assume that an officer can only conduct a search when they have obtained the proper search warrant, this isn’t entirely true. Although a warrant is required under most circumstances, there are other grounds which we mentioned above that police officers in Morris County, NJ can use if they wish to search someone. The most “broadest” of the three is reasonable suspicion. When an officer has reason to believe you committed a crime or intend to commit a crime, they are said to have reasonable suspicion and thereby use this as a basis to conduct a search.
Now, you do need to be aware that police officers simply cannot say they have a “hunch” that you engaged in an illegal act, rather, they must have some form of evidence or facts that indicate you did or intend to commit a crime. For example, if you were to fit the description of a person who was witnessed robbing a local store and police officers stopped you as they believe it was you, they hold the right to conduct a search. The fact that your clothing, hair color, etc. matches what someone saw at the time of the robbery gives an officer reasonable suspicion to believe it was you. officers may also have reasonable suspicion to believe you committed a crime based on your demeanor.
Another example of reasonable suspicion might involve an officer who stops someone who is walking through an apartment complex late at night where many burglaries have been reported. Given the recent break-ins coupled with a suspicious person walking around at night who is carrying a bat who is looking around and inside vehicles would serve as evidence for an officer to stop and conduct a pat down of that person.
What if an officer in Morris County, NJ conducted an unreasonable search on me?
When an officer claims they had reasonable suspicion to believe you committed a crime which led them to searching you, it can be hard to prove otherwise. Going against the word of an officer isn’t exactly easy, especially because officers of the law are given a certain amount of power and authority. However, if you believe an officer in Morris County conducted an unreasonable search and violated your Fourth Amendment rights which protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures, your next step is to contact a police brutality lawyer in Morris County, NJ.
The Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C. has been assisting clients for more than 20 years, helping them with various matters including fighting back against police brutality. If you are interested in learning how police brutality attorney Stuart M. Nachbar, Esq. can help you get through difficult time and defend your rights, contact this firm now to schedule your initial consultation.
The Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C. can be reached at:
354 Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 2025
Livingston, NJ 07039