To build a case against you, police and prosecutors need evidence. However, they aren’t free to do anything they wish when collecting that evidence. The Fourth Amendment, along with other rules, limits the ways in which law enforcement may obtain evidence—and if these rules are broken, the evidence may be thrown out of court altogether.
Here are a few examples of illegally obtained evidence:
Evidence Collected Without a Warrant or Exception
Typically, police must have a warrant in order to search for and seize evidence, unless one of the many exceptions to the warrant requirement applies. For example, police may not invite themselves into your house and search through your possessions without a warrant or without consent from someone who lives in the house.
Exceptions to the warrant requirement include receiving consent, searches incident to arrest, searches related to sudden dangerous emergencies, and many others. If no exception applies, a warrant must be issued.
Evidence Collected Under an Improperly-Granted Warrant
Even if a warrant is issued, it must meet basic legal requirements. Generally speaking, a warrant must be signed by a judge or magistrate, it must specifically state the place to be searched and the items to be seized, and it must give “probable cause,” or the reasons law enforcement has for thinking that the planned search and seizure will turn up evidence of a crime.
Because judges may be asked to sign a large number of warrants in a short time, there is always the chance that a warrant was not properly issued. If this happens, any evidence seized under that warrant may be treated by the courts as if no warrant existed at all.
If you’ve been charged with a crime and you suspect the evidence obtained against you was collected in violation of your legal rights, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer today. At Rudnick Law, we will help fight for your legal rights and work to secure the best possible outcome in your situation.