Warrant Requirement in NJ Auto Searches
- February 13, 2012
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For the past couple of years, New Jersey has required a threshold of probable cause and exigent circumstances to justify warrantless searches of motor vehicles following routine traffic stops. This requires the need for evidence preservation or officer safety in order to search a vehicle during a routine traffic stop. Now prosecutors are seeking a reversal of the need for higher thresholds and a movement toward a warrantless automobile exception. Previously the automobile exception served to reduce the level of privacy an individual could expect in an automobile and gave the police broader search powers during routine motor vehicle stops.
The New Jersey Court found that the civil liberties of NJ citizens and those commuting within its boarders in automobiles outweighed the need for police to access the contents of the vehicles without a clear and justified need. A reversal at this time would be a deprivation of the liberty of NJ drivers and passengers by revocation of their right to a reasonable expectation of privacy within their vehicles.
The Court expressed concern for the lengthy detention of motorists in the event a warrant is sought but also found that the opportunity to permit a warrantless search results in an undue coercive pressure on the motorist. The Court stated the officers’ requirement to justify their decisions to search at later hearings as a protection for motorists but this offers little protection once the police have the drugs in their possession .
When it comes to warrantless automobile searches, the pendulum has long swung between the civil liberties of motorists and the need for the police to protect the public. If you have been convicted of possession, or any other crime, based on evidence obtained during a warrantless automobile search contact an attorney immediately to find out if your rights were violated and attempt to have this evidence suppressed.
For more information on charges stemming from motor vehicle searches in NJ visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com.