What Are Administrative Searches?

The prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures is applicable to commercial business enterprises as well as private homes. New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691,699 (1987); See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. 541, 543 (1967); State v. Williams, 84 N.J. 217, 223-225 (1980). Commercial property owners or operators have a legitimate expectation of privacy that extends not only to traditional searches conducted by police to gather evidence of a crime, but also as to administrative inspections. New York  v. Burger, 482 U.S. at 699; Marshall v. Barlow’s Inc., 436 U.S. 307, 312-313 (1978); State v. Bonaccurso, 227 N.J. Super. 159, 164-165 (Law Div. 1988).

Generally, an administrative search warrant must be obtained before a regulatory search can be undertaken. See, e.g., See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. at 545; State v. Bromell, 251 N.J. Super. 85, 91 (Law Div. 1991) However , in “closely regulated industries.” administrative inspections of premises may be conducted without a warrant. New York  v. Burger, 482 U.S. at 700; Colonnade Catering Corp. v. United States, 397 U.S. 72,77 (1970); State v. Dolce, 178 N.J. Super.  275, 285 (App. Div. 1981). Some examples of industries which have been deemed by the courts to be “closely regulated” are: gun selling, United States v. Biswell, 406 U.S. 311, 316-31 (1972), the liquor industry, Colonnade Catering Corp., 397 U.S. at 76-77; State v. Williams, 84 N.J. at 223; horse racing, State v. Dolce, 178 N.J. Super. at 283-285; State v. Turcotte, 239 N.J. Super. 285, 290 (App. Div. 1990); casino gambling establishments, In re Martin, 90 N.J. 295, 312-314 (1982); the pharmaceutical industry, State v. Rednor, 203 N.J. Super. 503, 507-508 (App. Div. 1985); wastewater treatment facilities, In re Environmental Protection Dep’t., 177 N.J. Super. 304, 313 (App. Div. 1981) and the meat packing industry. State v. Bonaccurso, 227 N.J. Super. at 167.

If you or your family has had a search of your personal property, vehicle or person, without a search warrant being served; with an administrative inspection of your property, speak with a criminal lawyer who is experienced in challenging search warrants and searches without warrants in NJ. The lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Abate 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.