Automobile or Car Search

Search of an Automobile or Car

Police officers frequently pull over a car for a traffic violation and the situation escalates into their attempting to search the motor vehicle for drugs, weapons or some other incriminating evidence. The transition from initial encounter to ensuing search of a vehicle is not, however, as easy as some law enforcement would have you believe. There are significant procedural requirements that must be met in order for the Warrant Requirement to be avoided and a warrantless search of an automobile to be lawfully conducted. The attorneys at our defense firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are highly knowledgeable in NJ Search & Seizure, and possess over 60 years of collective experience. We would be happy to review the facts of your case and discuss exactly how we can help.

Requirements in Order to Search a Motor Vehicle Without a Warrant in New Jersey

Police may conduct a lawful search of a car without a warrant following a valid traffic stop if the following two requirements are met:

  1. There exists Probable Cause to believe that the vehicle contained evidence of a crime or contraband such as drugs, a weapon or the like; and
  2. An Exigent Circumstance exists which makes it impractical for police to preserve the evidence if required to undergo the hardship of obtaining a search warrant. This element will exist where an examination of the facts demonstrate rapidly unfolding, unpredictable events that involve an inherent risk of loss or destruction of evidence given the mobility of the automobile.

If both of the aforesaid requirements have been met, the police may search a car without a warrant. If the elements do not exist, however, a Motion to Suppress will succeed in setting the evidence aside except where valid consent to search the vehicle is given. A consent to search an automobile may be requested under State v. Carty by a police officer provided he or she has reasonable suspicion to believe that something improper exists in the vehicle .

The automobile exception to the warrant requirement is a very complex issue and requires the assistance an experienced attorney. Our defense team includes two former prosecutors and four lawyers ready to fight an illegal search. Do not hesitate to contact us at 1-877-450-8301 as a criminal lawyer from our firm is ready to assist you.