For evidence to be accepted by a New Jersey court, it must be relevant, material, and obtained legally. Law enforcement officers need to either have a warrant or probable cause to conduct a search for evidence or conduct a search based on one of many warrant exceptions. A defendant’s right to not be subjected to unreasonable search and seizure procedures is protected by both the Federal and the NJ State Constitution.
Evidence gathered by law enforcement under illegal circumstances is considered “inadmissible” and subject to being suppressed. Most commonly, this applies to evidence produced as a result of an unlawful arrest, seizure, or search, as well as evidence to which the chain of custody was broken (and therefore it could have been tampered with). Coerced confessions and situations in which one is forced to give up their legal rights are also considered illegal means of collecting evidence.
How Can an Attorney Prevent Illegal Evidence From Being Presented?
If a Jersey City criminal defense attorney wants to question the validity of certain pieces of evidence gathered by law enforcement, he or she will file a Motion to Suppress Evidence. The motion will define which particular evidence needs to be excluded and the reason for it in accordance with New Jersey criminal procedure laws.
For instance, in a case where a client was approached by police and had their vehicle searched without probable cause or a warrant, and was later charged with drug possession after police found illegal drugs in the vehicle, an attorney may be able to have the charges thrown out because the evidence gathered was inadmissible in court. By New Jersey law, every search conducted without a warrant is deemed invalid, and the evidence produced by that search should not be used in court.
When a suppression motion is successfully granted, the evidence or piece of information in question will not be presented to a jury. The absence of a critical piece of evidence or inability to present it as a valid reason for a defendant’s conviction can make it very difficult for the State to continue a case, often resulting in charges being reduced or dismissed altogether.
Understanding the New Jersey criminal procedure laws’ intricacies may be a daunting task unless you can rely on the knowledge of a skilled criminal defense attorney. By engaging an attorney early on, you may be able to better defend yourself against evidence acquired through improper searches and seizures. Our legal team will know how to gather information about your case and present it so as to position you for the best result possible. Contact us at 201-798-4024 for a case review.