UPDATED MARCH 21, 2019
What happens if police show up to your New Jersey home with a search warrant? Can they detain you? Are you free to leave? What if you don’t even live there? In our criminal defense practice, especially our Passaic County, Essex County, and Hudson County cases, we hear questions like these from our clients.Related: Criminal Law, What Happens on the First Court Date if Arrested?
Police Showed Up With a Search Warrant
First, if you are in a house or apartment and police arrive with a search warrant, do not panic, and understand that you have no obligation speak with the police and incriminate yourself. Having said that, it has long been the rule throughout the United States that police are allowed to detain the occupants of the premises while they are executing a search warrant. It does not matter whether or not you live there and you definitely should not physically resist. This is because the officers want to make sure that they are safe while searching, that people are not able to destroy or hide evidence, and that suspects do not simply flee the area. If you are detained, it does not mean that you are presently under arrest, but depending on what the search reveals, arrests may follow. What is important is that, generally, if you are detained you have certain rights, like the right to remain silent.
I Left Before Police Arrived With The Search Warrant
If you have already left the premises and police arrive with a warrant, things are a bit different. In the recent United States Supreme Court case of Bailey v. United States, police were preparing to execute a search warrant. While watching the apartment, they noticed two men leaving the yard, getting into a car, and driving away. They followed and detained the men and brought them back to the apartment. They had no reason to stop the car other than the fact that they were leaving the area of the apartment. The Supreme Court held that police are only allowed to detain people during a search if they are actually in the immediate vicinity of the property that they currently are searching. The court reasoned that none of the policy considerations stated above that justify detaining people during a search really applies here. If the person has already left, they clearly pose no threat to officer safety, they cannot destroy evidence at the premises, and they are not actually fleeing from anything.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney – Free Consultation With a Skilled Attorney
Remember, the police and prosecutors have teams of people working to put drug offenders in jail. In the process, they may overstep their bounds or arrest innocent people. If you have any question or you or a loved one were accused of possession of a controlled dangerous substance, please do not hesitate to contact us for a 100% free consultation.
Raff & Raff, LLP
Attorneys at Law
30 Church Street
Paterson, NJ 07505
Tel: (973) 742-1917
Fax: (973) 742-2454