Exigent Circumstances - Defined

What are Exigent Circumstances?

There are exceptions to the requirement that police obtain a warrant before conducting a search. One of the exceptions under NJ Search & Seizure Law is a situation where police possess probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and are confronted with exigent circumstances. Our lawyers have experience in dealing with scenarios such as these given their over 100 years of collective experience handling criminal cases in New Jersey, including years as prosecuting attorneys. A lawyer would be happy to explain this area of law and how it applies to the facts of your case in Middlesex County, Passaic County, Essex County, Bergen County, Morris County, Monmouth County, Union County, Ocean County or elsewhere in the state. We hope you find the information regarding exigent circumstances of value and please do not hesitate to contact us to speak to a knowledgeable attorney free of charge anytime 24/7 at 1-877-450-8301.

The term  “exigent circumstances” is incapable of an exact definition as it can take many forms depending on attendant facts. Nonetheless, it is always characterized as spontaneous and unforeseeable circumstances that require immediate action. These circumstances must render it impractical for police to file an Application for a Warrant and validating their undertaking a Warrantless Search.

The Courts in New Jersey have identified factors to be considered by a Court in determining whether exigent circumstances exist. The consideration include the following:

  1. The urgency and time necessary to obtain a warrant;
  2. Whether there is reason to believe that evidence is about to be removed;
  3. The danger involved in police securing the site while a search warrant is obtained;
  4. Knowledge on the part of the suspects that police are involved;
  5. The destructibility of the evidence;
  6. The seriousness of the offense involved;
  7. Whether there is evidence to believe the suspect is armed ;
  8. Whether probable cause is strong or marginal ;
  9. The time of day in which the circumstances arise;
  10. Whether police created the exigency or whether it was the natural result of what unfold from police investigation; and
  11. Whether the physical character of the premises is conducive to effective surveillance as an alternative to a warrantless entry while a warrant is procured.