Clementon, NJ asked in Civil Rights and Constitutional Law for New Jersey

Q: Victim of illegal search in New Jersey.

Victim of illegal search in New Jersey:  Someone I know (I will call him "Victim") was illegally searched by cops.  There was no probable cause and no search warrant.  The backpack of Victim was locked.  The cops removed key from Victim's neck and used key to open backpack.  The cops found an empty gun (not loaded).  The Victim has been detained for many months awaiting sentencing.  However, the Victim's constitutional freedoms were violated, and anything they found inside locked backpack should not be used against Victim.  In order to use the locked empty gun as evidence against Victim, the County expunged the case, and handed the case to Federal.  If the Victim was your son, how would you handle this case?  This is a true case.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: If the Victim was my son, I would focus on building a strong legal defense to fight the charges and protect his constitutional rights. Here are some steps I would consider:

1. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in cases involving illegal searches and seizures. They can provide the best guidance on how to proceed with the case.

2. Gather all relevant evidence and information about the incident, including police reports, witness statements, and any video footage if available.

3. File a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the illegal search. Under the "exclusionary rule," evidence obtained through an illegal search cannot be used against the defendant in court. The attorney would argue that the search violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

4. Challenge the legality of the expungement and the transfer of the case to federal jurisdiction. The attorney would investigate whether proper procedures were followed and if there were any irregularities in the process.

5. Explore plea bargain options, if appropriate, to potentially reduce the charges or sentence. However, this would depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the advice of the attorney.

6. Provide emotional support to my son throughout the legal process, ensuring that he understands his rights and the steps being taken in his defense.

7. Consider filing a civil lawsuit against the police department for the violation of constitutional rights, depending on the outcome of the criminal case and the advice of the attorney.

It is crucial to remember that every case is unique, and the best course of action would depend on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. Consulting with a qualified criminal defense attorney is essential to protect the Victim's rights and mount the strongest possible defense.

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