Can Abandoned Property Be Searched Without A Warrant?

The first exception to the warrant requirement is made for abandoned property. For the exception to apply, however, the property must be abandoned in the constitutional sense: the person gave up his or her reasonable expectation of privacy in the property, without necessarily relinquishing his or her ownership interest. State v. Hempele, 120 N.J. 182, 213-214 (1990) Thus, in Hempele, the New Jersey Supreme Court found, in contrast to federal constitutional law under California v. Greenwood¸ 486 U.S. 35, 39-40 (1988), that there is an exception of privacy in trash left for collection in an area accessible to the public. State v. Hempele, 120 N.J. at 209, 213-215. For property to be abandoned, the owner must give up more than physical control over the property. State v. Hempele, 120 N.J. at 213-14. An important factor in determining whether property has been abandoned is the denial of ownership by the defendant. State v. Abreu, 257 N.J. Super, 549, 556 (App. Div. 1992); State v. Allen, 254 N.J. Super. 62 (App. Div. 1992); State v. Lee, 245 N.J. Super. 441, 450-452 (App. Div. 1991).

If you or your family has had a search of your personal property, vehicle or person, without a search warrant being served, with a warrant exception, speak with a criminal defense firm who is experienced in challenging search warrants and searches without warrants in NJ. The lawyers at Aiello Harris have the experience and knowledge to protect your rights and defend you against criminal charges. For a free initial consultation, call us today at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online.  Your initial consultation is free.

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