Administrative Searches and Criminal Charges in NJ
- March 6, 2012
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Local ordinances in certain towns require property owners to permit town officials to perform “routine” administrative searches of their property without the need for a warrant. Certainly, one having substantial work done on the property and needing a permit would anticipate inspectors to be viewing the property, especially the areas in which work is being performed and other affected areas.
The Fourth Amendment bans warrantless searches and affords the people an expectation of privacy in their personal property. Barring certain limited exceptions, citizens have a right to refuse officials entry onto their property for an administrative search or, other reasons, and require the officials to seek a warrant to enter the premises. Requiring a warrant forces the official seeking entry to demonstrate to a Judge that there is a compelling public need for the official to enter the premises. If the official cannot articulate the need to the Judge offering compelling reasons, the warrant will be denied. Alternatively, if a warrant is granted without due balancing of the individual’s right to privacy and the need of the public to obtain access, anything discovered during any ensuing search can be excluded from evidence in a proceeding against the property owner.
The towns of Garfield, Paterson, Clifton, Bound Brook, Newark have considered this issue in the Bergen, Passaic, Somerset and Essex Courts with mixed results.
Often the need for an administrative search is claimed in order to obtain entry into a building where criminal activity is suspected. Such searches are illegal fishing expeditions by law enforcement officials and a violation of the 4th amendment rights of the property owner or anyone with a reasonable expectation of privacy in the premises.
If you, or someone you know, have been the subject of an administrative search resulting in criminal charges you should seek an attorney immediately in order to protect your rights. An experienced criminal attorney will be able to review the facts and know whether the search met the exceptions to the warrant requirement or whether any warrants were properly issued. Criminal charges in New Jersey have an impact on your record, your finances and future opportunities. You should take advantage of every opportunity to protect your rights.
For more information on criminal charges in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com.