Unlawful Search & Stop

When Is a Search Unlawful?

Each year in New York, the police frisk, search, and arrest thousands of individuals to investigate crimes. What you may not realize is that you have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, even if you are guilty of a crime. A stop will be found unlawful if the police did not have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. A frisk will be found unlawful if the police did not have specific and articulable facts that a suspect is armed or dangerous. A search without a warrant will be unlawful if it was not supported by probable cause. If a search is executed pursuant to a warrant, it can still be found unlawful if it exceeded the limits set by the warrant. Finally, an arrest is unlawful if it was not supported by probable cause, which is shown if a reasonable person would be led to believe and conscientiously entertain an honest and strong suspicion that the accused is guilty.

This right against unlawful searches and seizures is important because police can conduct an illegal search and seizure in almost any investigation for a crime. The evidence seized during this search includes your physical items present at the scene, personal property, statements by you, statements by witnesses, blood samples, drugs, tests and analyses of such drugs, and indicia.[1] The search may take place of your house, car or person with or without a warrant. Even if the police use a warrant to carry out the search, which is an order from the judge, the search can still be found to be illegal.

What Are The Consequences?

If your search or seizure appears to be unlawful, your defense attorney will ask the court for a hearing known as a Map or Dunaway hearing. At this hearing, your attorney will cross-examine police officer(s) and show the court that they did not meet the legal standard to conduct the search in question. If the court finds in your favor, this is one of the most powerful weapons that you have as a defendant. All of the evidence that was seized as a result of this unlawful search will not be used against the defendant at trial. This evidence may include all physical and intangible things such as confessions made by the defendant.

How We Can Help You

If you have a case involving an illegal search or seizure, Lavy Law is the best firm to help you suppress the evidence. As a trial attorney, we know how to argue and win your case before a judge for the Mapp or Dunaway hearing. We know how to get your charge dismissed because we handled countless hearings as a former government attorney. As a counselor at law, we know how to empower you during this stressful process just like a coach would during a game.

Read our Recent Cases to see a case we have won just like your own.

If you are being accused of a crime that involves an unlawful search or seizure, Contact Us today for a consultation.


[1] Indicia often means evidence that tends to prove a person’s identity or intent. Indicia is always collected during the execution of a search warrant to prove that a person lives in that house, the drugs or weapons in question was theirs, and, if applicable, they had the intent to sell drugs.

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