Arrest and Automobile Search in NJ
- June 9, 2012
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A warrantless search occurring following the arrest of a motor vehicle driver is not to be limitless. It is to be limited to the person and the surroundings within their immediate reach, such as under the driver’s seat when the driver is arrested. The reason for permission to search the limited area is to locate weapons that might be used to harm officers and to prevent destruction of evidence such as CDS or evidence of a crime. What this means is once the arrestee is away from the vehicle, the exception no longer applies because they cannot access weapons or evidence from the vehicle. Where there are a limited number of officers and the arrestee has not yet been secured in a way to prevent access to the vehicle, this limited search may still be undertaken. However, entering other areas of the vehicle, such as the back seat, are not permissible under the exigent circumstances exemption to the search warrant requirement. Exigent circumstances only apply when the stop is unexpected, the police have probable cause to believe the vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime and it is not practical to obtain a warrant. If you have been arrested as a result of evidence obtained from a warrantless search of a motor vehicle you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to find out if your rights have been violated and the evidence against you must be discarded. For more information on search and seizure, CDS in a motor vehicle or other criminal law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com.