Search of the Person

Did Police Search Your Body, Pockets or Clothing?

If you were searched and thereafter arrested by police, our lawyers can assist you. The reality is that while searches of people and their pockets, shoes, socks, underwear, and jackets are conducted every day by law enforcement, these efforts are often illegal under NJ law. This is where our attorneys come into the picture. The defense team at our firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall possesses over 100 years of collective experience defending individuals in this state and they know the ins and outs of New Jersey Search Law. A lawyer on our staff will make sure that your rights were not violated and that you receive the representation you deserve, including aggressive pursuit of a Motion to Supress if you were subjected to an improper search. We encourage you to contact us at 1-877-450-8301 and an attorney will review your Passaic County, Union County, Monmouth County, Ocean County, Morris County, Essex County, Middlesex County or Hudson County, case free of charge. The following is a thumbnail summary of the law in NJ concerning searches of the person, including clothing.

New Jersey Law: Body or Clothing Search by Police

A police officer must generally possess a legitimate suspicion before he or she may lawfully conduct a search of an individual. The level of suspicion necessary in a particular situation hinges on the nature and objective of the search. The following are general rules concerning searching an individual:

  • Search for a Weapon: Law enforcement is permitted to conduct a pat down or frisk in accordance with the United States Supreme Court decision in Terry v. Ohio, 392. U.S. 1 (1968), where there is a reasonable suspicion to believe that a person possesses a weapon. This variety of search is commonly referred to as a Terry Pat Down or Search.
  • Search for Evidence of a Crime: Police must possess both Probable Cause and an Exigent Circumstance before they may search an individual to uncovering evidence of a crime (e.g. drugs or property). The term probable cause refers to enough proof to lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime or evidence of a crime exists. An exigent circumstance exists where there is reason to believe that, but for the police acting right now to search and seize an item, the evidence is likely to be destroyed; in other words, it isn’t really practical for law enforcement to obtain a warrant because of the threat of destruction or loss of the evidence.
  • Search Incident to Arrest: Provided the arrest is lawful, an ensuing search of the body and clothing is permitted by law.
  • Consensual Search: If an individual knowingly and intelligently provides a Consent to Search, evidence thereafter discovered on his or her person may be lawfully seized by police.
  • Parole or Probation Search: A search of a defendant by his or her probation officer or parole officer is valid provided there exists a reasonable suspicion to believe that evidence of criminal conduct exists.

The lawyers at our firm are highly knowledgeable in NJ search laws and procedures and include former prosecutors in counties and municipalities throughout the state. Our attorneys are available to discuss the specific facts of your case and the prospect of a motion to set aside an illegal search of your pockets, socks, shoes, jackets or other garments. in Union County, Passaic County, Monmouth County, Hudson County, Morris County, Ocean County, Mercer County or elsewhere in New Jersey. A lawyer is available anytime 24/7 at 1-877-450-8301 and initial consultations with an attorney from our law office are always without charge.