The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. The New Jersey constitution provides additional protections beyond those granted by the Fourth Amendment.
The New Jersey Supreme court recently upheld this protection in a ruling about when the police can execute a warrantless search.
Sometimes when police stop motorists for suspicious driving behaviors, expired tags, moving violations or other reasons, they want to search the vehicle for weapons, drugs or other illegal items. Most of the time, unless there is an active warrant out for the person, the police do not have a warrant to execute this type of search.
The Supreme Court upheld that the New Jersey constitution and case law prevent law enforcement from executing a warrantless search unless unforeseeable and spontaneous circumstances justify it.
Evidence gathered in a warrantless search
Suppose a defendant can prove that law enforcement did not have an unforeseeable and spontaneous justification to execute a warrantless search. In that case, the court may rule that the evidence obtained through the warrantless search is not admissible.
What to do if the police want to search your car
You have the right to refuse a warrantless search. If the police proceed to search your car without your consent, you can challenge them in court and potentially have the evidence thrown out, if the police can not prove the search was legal.
New Jersey law provides strong privacy protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement violated your rights, you can challenge them in court.