What is a Warrant?

Upon a finding of probable cause, the magistrate or judge will issue a search warrant. Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution, the warrant must be specific as to the place to be searched and the items to be seized. The United States Supreme Court set forth a standard to be used in determining whether the warrant is sufficiently particularized: “It is enough if the description is such that the officer with a search warrant can, with reasonable effort ascertain and identify the place intended…” Steele v. United States, 267 U.S. 498, 503 (1924). New Jersey clarified the particularization requirement by stating that a warrant is sufficient  if it describes the property so that the intended property is recognizable from neighboring properties. See State v. Daniels, 46 N.J. 428, 437 (1966). See also State v. Muldowney, 60 N.J. 594, 600 (1972). If the warrant describes the property with such particularity so as to clearly identify the property, an incorrect street address on the warrant will not invalidate it. State v. Bisaccia, 58 N.J. 586, 592 (1971); State v. Ferrara, 98 N.J. Super.  534, 537-538 (App. Div. 1968). But see State v. Horton, 207 N.J. Super. 555, 558-559 (Law Div. 1985) (invalidating warrant where affidavit set forth wrong address and contained insufficient description of the house).

Exceptions to the Warrant Rule

As with the place to be searched, the items to be seized must be particularly identified under both the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution. See Marron v. United States, 275 U.S. 192, 196 (1927). Exceptions to this particularity requirement consist of inadvertently discovered items and items in plain view. These exceptions are discussed respectively in sections I.B.4(f) and 4(i), infra, in the context of Exceptions to the Warrant Rule.

If you or your family has had a search warrant served on your personal property, vehicle or person, speak with a qualified defense lawyer who is experienced in challenging search 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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