Search of a House, Apartment or Other Residence

Did Police Enter Your House or Apartment Without a Warrant?

Our lawyers receive many calls every year from individuals arrested following a warrantless search of a residence. We uniformly advise those charged under these circumstances that they are entitled to significant constitutional protection against police entering their home except with a warrant. If your apartment or house was searched, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will provide you with the guidance you. Every lawyer at the firm is highly knowledgeable in NJ Search & Seizure Law and initial consultations are always without charge. An attorney is available anytime 24/7 at 1-877-450-8301 to discuss your case in Monmouth County, Union County, Bergen County, Morris County, Mercer County, Passaic County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, Essex County or Hudson County.

New Jersey Law: Warrantless Home & Apartment Searches

The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens against unreasonable searches and/or seizures by police. An individual’s home would obviously fall within this protection and, as such, law enforcement generally cannot enter a residence (e.g. detached house or apartment) to search or make an arrest without adhering to the Warrant Requirement (i.e. obtain a warrant from a judge). Entry without a warrant is presumptively unreasonable under both Federal and New Jersey law. This presumption may, however, be overcome to permit warrantless entry into a home under the following circumstances.

  1. Police Possess Probable Cause & Exigent Circumstances. If the police have probable cause to believe that a crime has or shall be committed, plus “exigent circumstances”, they may enter a dwelling without first obtaining a warrant. The term Probable Cause is generally defined as a well grounded suspicion. An Exigent Circumstance is a situation where the facts are such that it is impractical in terms of time for the police to obtain a warrant to enter the residence. The term contemplates a situation that is spontaneous and that requires immediate action (i.e. objective facts demonstrating an immediate threat to police or public safety, the escape of a dangerous felon or the destruction of vital evidence). It should be kept in mind that a situation created by the police will not suffice in establishing an exigent circumstance.
  2. Police Must Enter to Provide Emergency Aid. A police officer is not required to obtain a search warrant before entering a dwelling to render aid to preserve life. Under New Jersey law, the emergency exception applies where a public official reasonably believes that immediate assistance is required to protect or preserve life or to prevent serious injury, the desire to provide assistance is the actual motive for entry, and the area searched possesses a nexus with the emergency.
  3. Police Must Enter to Confront Domestic Violence. In accordance with New Jersey law, police are authorized to make a warrantless entry in order to locate and protect victims of domestic violence.
  4. Police Must Enter to Address a Fire. Police and firefighters are not required to secure a warrant to respond to a fire call or to fight a fire.
  5. Police Enter as Part of their “Community Caretaking” Function. This exception is grounded on the principal that police work is heavily grounded on helping the public avoid potential dangers or injury. The police are permitted to enter a house to come to the assistance of a citizen under the ideal that this is part of their caretaking duties of the community.
  6. Police Enter Based on Consent. Police may search a residence or structure without a warrant based on “consent”. The individual providing the consent must, however, possess explicit authority or apparent authority to do so. A more detailed discussion of this exception is contained under Consensual Search.

An attorney is ready to provide you with the information you need regarding the search in Middlesex County, Hudson County, Passaic County, Monmouth County, Union County, Ocean County, Mercer County, Bergen County, Morris County or elsewhere in NJ. Our staff possesses over 100 years of collective legal experience and every lawyer is experienced in residential and other structure searches. Give us a call now at 1-877-450-8301 and one of our lawyers will be happy to assist you.