Many and probably most New York motorists at some point have been stopped by the police while driving. However, what seems like a simple traffic stop can rapidly become quite serious when police officers suspect that a driver is violating laws other than traffic laws. If you should become a criminal suspect under these circumstances, you really do need to know your legal rights.

When the police make a traffic stop, they are allowed to search the driver if they believe he is armed; this is legal because law enforcement officers have a right to assure their own safety. While patting down a motorist for weapons, if police officers stumble onto drugs or other illegal items, they may confiscate those items and charge the motorist accordingly without any violation of the motorist’s constitutional rights.

However, strict legal limits govern the ability of police to search a motorist’s vehicle; a vehicle’s passenger compartment may be searched only if at least one of two criteria is met. If a driver is within “reaching distance” of the passenger compartment, police may search it, in their own defense, for weapons. Additionally, should law enforcement officers have reasonable cause to believe a vehicle contains evidence of a crime the driver is being charged with, they are legally allowed to search the vehicle. Also, after a vehicle has been legally impounded, law enforcement officers have a legal right to search it. Vehicle owners should be aware at all times what items their vehicle contains and in what situations police officers may legally search the vehicle.

What Are Search Warrants?

A search warrant in New York allows police officers to search a specific place or area, usually one’s home or place of business, at a specific time and to seize specific items. For instance, if the police suspect that you are involved in drug trafficking or selling drugs from your home, they may ask a judge to issue a search warrant for your home and seize any illegal drugs they find there. If the police arrive at your home on Long Island or anywhere in New York City with a search warrant, get legal help and call an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer as soon as you possibly can.

Before a warrant can be issued, the police must prepare for the judge a written affidavit showing probable cause. The information in the affidavit may be based on observations by either a police officer or police informant. However, if the informant is anonymous, then the information must be corroborated. Typically, the police will not ask for a warrant until they can affirm to a judge that an undercover officer or informant has recently seen contraband in a specific location. The police cannot base an affidavit on hearsay or rumors. The affidavit must specify the contraband items being sought. Therefore, when police receive search the warrant from the judge, they cannot use it as a license to search everywhere in the premises for anything that might potentially be illegal. For example, if the search warrant is for a stolen vehicle, the police can search your garage but not inside your home.

Unless the police have obtained a “no-knock” warrant – and that’s extremely rare – they must show the search warrant to you so that you can read it prior to or during the search. You are never required to consent to an unwarranted search, but if a police officer has a search warrant, you must permit the search. If the police ask to conduct a warrantless search, you should insist on a warrant. A police officer has no right to detain you unless the officer has a reason to suspect that you committed a crime (or a traffic violation). If you are in doubt, simply ask the officer if you are free to go and consult with a Long Island criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after the incident.

If you have any questions or concerns about search warrants in New York, or if you’ve been arrested based on evidence discovered in a police search, get the legal help you need as quickly as you can. Put your case promptly in the hands of an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer.

Hire A Long Island Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are arrested in the state of New York as the result of a vehicle search and seizure, you will need to obtain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure that your legal rights are protected. A good criminal defense lawyer will consider the particulars of your case and give you sound legal advice regarding your options. If your case goes to trial, an experienced criminal defense attorney will help you compile evidence and witnesses, will provide you with a forceful defense, and will attempt to have any charges against you reduced or thrown out entirely.

We understand what you are going through, and we understand that people make mistakes. At the Mirsky Law Firm, we believe everyone has a right to the best legal defense possible. With over two decades of specializing in criminal law, David M. Mirsky has the reputation and expertise to fight your charges. Our team of veteran Long Island criminal defense attorneys has more than eighty years of combined experience, and we’re known for our willingness to fight aggressively for our clients. We’ll work to get your charges reduced or dismissed, but we don’t simply take what the courts offer; we fight for you all the way to trial if necessary.

We will strive to clear your good name and restore your life. When your future is at stake, don’t take chances with an inexperienced lawyer or a public defender. You need a seasoned attorney with a team of skilled litigators who are effective both in and out of the courtroom. The Mirsky Law Firm has the background and skills you need. With solid relationships in the D.A.’s office, the courthouse, and with other local attorneys, you will find no better legal defense in New York.