Who else can give consent to search your home, vehicle, or electronic device without a search warrant? Why it matters and how it could make a big difference in your criminal case
Consent to Search
Our criminal defense law firm represents individuals arrested charged with crimes and offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A critical issue in many criminal cases is illegal search and seizure. It is important to understand that every person has the constitutional right against illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1 Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, as well as Article 1, paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution. With that said, all constitutional rights are waivable at any time.
This means that if a person consents to giving up his or her constitutional rights, they no longer apply. We always advise clients to never or give up waive constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure or self-incrimination. This means that if police want to search your home or place of business, you should refuse. This also means that if police want to search your car, your vehicle, your vehicle, a storage locker, luggage, bag, or anything else you own, you should also refuse.
Search Warrants and Consent
A refusal should always be done in a respectful manner to avoid any additional charges, like resisting arrest, or aggravated assault. In addition, if police want you to make a statement, it is in your best interest not to say anything, but to speak to a criminal defense lawyer about your options in this case. Making a statement about what happened will never help your case. Police aren’t interested in your statement and are only asking you questions to build the case for the prosecutor or district attorney.
Do police need a warrant to search your car or vehicle?
In most situations, police will need a search warrant to search your home or place of business as the expectation of privacy is much higher than that of a vehicle in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, while vehicle and car searches are, for the most part, illegal, they are allowed and therefore constitutional in New Jersey.
This means that in New Jersey, police can search a car without a search warrant provided they have probable cause to believe the vehicle contains evidence of a crime or contraband. In Pennsylvania, however, even if the car contains alleged contraband and police have probable cause to search it, they will need a search warrant unless there are exigent circumstances. Pennsylvania Courts have ruled, however, that the mobility of the car, in and of itself, is not considered exigent.
Consent to Search and Ownership
When it comes to consent, the issue is also ownership. For instance, if a person is a co-owner of a piece of property or a vehicle, they, in addition to the accused, can give police consent to search a home, a place of business or car. In addition, co-ownership would also allow police to obtain the consent of a co-owner for property such as electronic devices (iPad, iPhone, laptop).
There is not much that your criminal defense lawyer can do from stopping a co-owner from giving consent, but it is important to keep in mind who is co-owner of your property and speak to them about providing consent to police or any law enforcement with regards to that property.
Admissible Evidence and Pre-trial Motions
The question of admissibility of evidence is usually the most critical piece in any criminal case in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Pre-trial Motions to suppress evidence based on a violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights are also strong tools that a criminal defense lawyer can use to fight many possessory crimes, such as the illegal possession of drugs, narcotics, handguns, firearms, as well as the illegal distribution of narcotics or drugs.
Co-ownership is often a problem in a case of married couples, or people simply living together in a large home. It is also an issue of concern for people who share small apartments, cellphone contracts or personal computers.
Finally, with regards to passwords, I have written previous article on the right against self-incrimination and passwords, but you should never give your password to a co-owner even if you believe they will never provide it to the police or law enforcement.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in PA & NJ
Please click here to contact our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers. We offer free case reviews and serve the following areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Atlantic City, Camden, Cherry Hill, Chester, Conshohocken, Doylestown, Media, Norristown, Philadelphia, Pottstown, Salem, Upper Darby, Upper Merion, Upper Providence, Vineland & Woodbury areas.