When you get charged with a crime under New Jersey law, avoiding a conviction means preventing the prosecution from meeting its burden of proof. You don’t need to prove that you are innocent—you just need to prevent the prosecution from proving that you are guilty. There are several ways to do this, one of which is to prevent the prosecution from introducing its evidence in court.
How do you prevent the prosecution from introducing its evidence? One option (depending on the circumstances of your case) is to assert your rights under the Fourth Amendment. If your Essex County criminal defense attorney can show that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights, then your lawyer may be able to have the prosecution’s evidence suppressed from your criminal trial.
What Does the Fourth Amendment Say?
The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Basically, it prohibits law enforcement from conducting warrantless searches and seizures in most cases (see below), and it requires the police to show probable cause in order to obtain a search warrant in court.
What Does (and Doesn’t) the Fourth Amendment Do?
While the Fourth Amendment prohibits warrantless searches and seizures in most cases, there are exceptions. For example, the police can conduct a warrantless search or seizure with a suspect’s consent or if they discover evidence of criminal activity in plain view. As a result, the Fourth Amendment’s protections are not absolute, and you should not assume that a search or seizure was unconstitutional simply because it was conducted without a warrant. With that said, unconstitutional searches and seizures are not uncommon, and you also should not assume that the police acted within the scope of their authority.
How Do You Suppress Evidence Under the Fourth Amendment?
While the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, it doesn’t say what happens if the police conduct an unreasonable search or seizure in violation of a suspect’s constitutional rights. So, what if the police violated your rights under the Fourth Amendment?
In most cases, the remedy for a Fourth Amendment violation is “suppression.” This means that you are entitled to have the government’s unconstitutionally obtained evidence suppressed from (or kept out of) your criminal case. You are not automatically entitled to a “not guilty” verdict; but, if the prosecution doesn’t have the evidence it needs to convict you, then you deserve to walk free. You will need to hire an Essex County criminal defense attorney to file a motion to suppress, and your attorney will need to be able to convince the court that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Essex County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey, asserting your rights under the Fourth Amendment could be key to presenting a successful defense. To discuss your case with Essex County criminal defense attorney Scott Gorman, call 201-489-9199 or request a free consultation online now.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense