Can I Sue the NYPD for Unlawful Search and Seizure?

Policeman doing a search in a male's back of the car

It is the primary duty of a police officer to ensure safety and protect citizens. However, with the alarming increase in police brutality cases, the trust many citizens have in our law enforcers is starting to waver.

Police brutality is an evident sign of power abuse, and officers can demonstrate this by conducting unwarranted searches and seizures. In rare instances, search and seizure without a warrant are valid, and you could face legal repercussions if you interfere with the process.

Unfortunately, not many people know when unwarranted searches are legal and when they are not. If you recently experienced an unlawful search and seizure in New York or know someone who did, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the NYPD.

This blog post will tackle unlawful search and seizure in New York, the legal remedies available to victims, and what you can do if your rights have been violated.

If you or a loved one has experienced an unlawful search and seizure, call The Pagan Law Firm at 212-967-8202 or fill out our online contact form to speak with a police misconduct attorney about your case today. 

What Is an Unlawful Search and Seizure?

Unlawful search and seizure is when law enforcement officers search or seize your property without the proper legal authority. This often happens without the knowledge or consent of the individual involved and can be very intimidating.

There are several state and federal laws protecting citizens from this criminal conduct. One of the well-known federal statutes regarding this is the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. Under this amendment, law enforcement officers must have probable cause, consent, and documentation to search a person or their property without a warrant.

In New York State, Article 1, Section 12 of the New York Constitution serves as the primary legal statute to protect citizens from unlawful search and seizure. The statute gives officers limited ability to search without a warrant, and the scope of the law has been narrowed by subsequent court decisions.

Is Unlawful Search and Seizure Considered Police Brutality?

When talking about police brutality, most people’s minds go straight to racial profiling or using excessive force. While these are the most common and publicized forms of police brutality we see today, the scope of police brutality cases is more extensive.

By definition, police brutality or police violence refers to the misuse of authority to violate basic human rights. As stated in the Fourth Amendment, citizens have a right to privacy and freedom from unjustified interference. Because of this clause, unlawful searches and seizures violate your human rights, making it a form of police brutality.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of an unlawful search and seizure, then you may have legal options to explore. It’s vital to talk to police brutality lawyers as soon as the suspicious officer demands an unwarranted search of your belongings or home.

What Are Your Rights?

As a citizen, you have various rights when you face a suspected illegal search and seizure:

  • The right to refuse the search: Essentially, you have the right to refuse any unwarranted search. However, it might not always work out for you. As mentioned, police officers have limited rights to search your property without a warrant, and if you refuse them, the courts can consider it an interference.
  • The right to dismiss recovered evidence: According to the exclusionary rule, you can have any evidence that was recovered in an illegal search and seizure dismissed. Regardless of if the evidence is against you, the court will have to exclude it if they find out it was obtained unlawfully.
  • The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine: The “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine extends the exclusionary rule to any evidence discovered due to an illegal search or seizure. For example, if an officer recovered vital evidence from an unlawful interrogation, the court will declare the evidence as inadmissible.

Police misconduct cases can be intimidating and can easily lead to the wrongful conviction of innocent people. That’s why it’s essential to know your rights and be aware of any violation by law enforcement officers.

Have your fourth amendment rights been violated by a police officer in New York? Call The Pagan Law Firm at 212-967-8202 today to learn about what compensation you can receive. 

What Is a Search Warrant?

A search warrant is a legally authorized document allowing the police to search and seize a person’s property. This warrant must be signed by an impartial magistrate or judge, who will consider all relevant evidence before issuing it.

Obtaining a valid search warrant takes time and effort. The officer must have probable cause or present a reason beyond doubt that a crime has occurred in the area they are searching. The officer must put details of the warrant into their request and list any property that may be involved in criminal activity.

What Makes a Warrant Valid?

In general, a valid search warrant needs to meet the following criteria:

  • Good faith: The officers must submit the warrant in good faith and show that they had no malicious intent when searching the property.
  • Reasonable cause: The officer must request the warrant based on reasonable grounds and provide enough evidence that the search is necessary.
  • Signed by a neutral authority: The search warrant must be signed by an impartial judge or magistrate.
  • Specificity of the location: The officer must submit the precise location and property they intend to search in the warrant.

If you are presented with a search warrant, evaluate its content meticulously. The name and the address on the warrant should match yours. You should also check for the officer’s name, issuing judge, and the date and time of the warrant.

You can deny the search if any of these is incorrect or missing. Contact a lawyer at The Pagan Law Firm immediately if you need clarification on whether the search warrant was valid.

When Can Search Warrants Be Issued Against You?

Now that you know what search warrants are and what makes them valid, it’s time to explore some common reasons why a judge or a police officer might issue a warrant against you. Here are some of the most common reasons.

Reasonable and Probable Suspicion

The police can issue a search warrant against you if they believe that criminal activity is occurring on your property. This might include drug possession, money laundering, or the use of illegal firearms.

If the police believe you have stolen items from another individual or a store, they can issue a warrant to search for evidence on your property. This includes any documents and photographs linking you to the suspected crime.

A Witness Testified Against You

If a witness in an ongoing crime testified against you, the police could use this as a basis for requesting a search warrant. This is especially true if the police have evidence that suggests you are guilty of hiding or storing incriminating items on your property.

You Are, or Your Property Is, Related to a Crime

Lastly, a search warrant can be issued against you if a police investigation leads to your property. Authorities might search your property if they have hard evidence that your property is linked to a crime. Regardless of whether or not you are directly or indirectly involved, the court may issue a warrant against you.

To speak with an attorney at The Pagan Law Firm, fill out our online contact form today.

When Are They Required To Present a Search Warrant?

In general, all criminal investigations entail a valid search warrant, regardless of the type of crime and whether there is any evidence against you.

For example, suppose the authorities believe you are involved in a domestic violence crime. In that case, they will have to present a valid search warrant before searching your property for any incriminating evidence.

The same rule applies if you are suspected of a theft or robbery crime. If an officer suspects you of larceny, they must present a valid search warrant before entering your property and recovering the evidence for court purposes.

When Are Police Officers Not Required To Present a Search Warrant?

Police officers are exempted from manifesting a valid search warrant for the following scenarios.

Exigent Circumstances

The police are allowed to enter your property without a search warrant if the situation requires immediate action — typically in hot pursuit cases or when evidence is at stake. However, to ensure that your rights are not violated during such circumstances, the court will review the time and circumstances of the warrantless entry or search.

Consensual Search

If you give the police officer permission to search your property, they don’t need to present a warrant. In some cases, they may ask you to sign a waiver of search rights, which allows them to bypass the warrant requirement. If you are a landlord or land owner, you don’t have the right to consent to a search and seizure of your tenants’ belongings.

Exceptions of Plain View

Police officers can seize any evidence in plain view without presenting a search warrant. This means if the police are conducting a lawful investigation and stumble upon contraband or illegal items, they can seize them without needing to present a warrant.

Exception of Automobiles

In some occurrences, the responding authority may not need a search warrant to search your automobile. In frisk and search cases, they can search your vehicle without a valid warrant if they have probable cause that the automobile is involved in criminal activities or contains evidence of a suspected crime. They may also search your car at an immigration checkpoint or as part of border control.

Did a police officer search your property without a warrant? Call The Pagan Law Firm at 212-967-8202 today to see if you have a case for police misconduct. 

How Can You Sue the NYPD for Unlawful Search and Seizure?

The New York City Police Department is one of the most powerful institutions in the state. With an arsenal of fully-equipped officers, they are often seen as untouchable. However, no one is above the law.

If a member of the NYPD illegally searches you, you have a right to sue them in court. But before filing a lawsuit against the police department, you should contact an experienced attorney with experience in civil rights cases to get acquainted with your legal options.

Here is what you can do if you are a victim of a warrantless search in New York City.

Refuse an Unlawful Search

You have constitutional rights to refuse search or seizure activities conducted by the police if they don’t have a valid warrant. You can refuse to answer any questions and remain calm during the incident. If you’re unsure whether to cooperate with the police during a search, you should contact an attorney immediately.

Ask the Police for Identification

If you’re being searched without a valid warrant, ask the police officers for their identification. This will help you prove that you were searched without legal authorization and make it easier to file a lawsuit against them later. Ask them for their badge, identification number, and station to further bolster your case.

Take Evidence While the Event Is Happening

If the police officer forcibly enters your property without a warrant, take pictures and videos of the event as evidence, if possible. This will provide further proof that you or your property were searched without legal authorization. Make sure that you capture the police officer’s identification and badge number in the picture or video as well.

Speak With an Attorney Immediately

After the event occurs or while the event is happening, contact an experienced police misconduct attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and explore your options before taking legal action against the police officer or the department.

Build a Police Misconduct Lawsuit

Once you have evidence to prove that a police officer conducted an unlawful search and seizure, you can start building your civil liability lawsuit with your attorney. Your lawyer can then guide you through filing a claim against the NYPD for violating your constitutional rights.

Your lawyer can help you further strengthen your case by bringing in compelling evidence, witness testimony, and other pieces of evidence. With their expertise, you can get a favorable jury verdict and compensation for your damages.

Speak with an expert police misconduct attorney at The Pagan Law Firm today by calling 212-967-8202 or filling out our online contact form. We have a proven track record of success and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve!

What Compensation Can You Receive?

You are entitled to a wide array of compensatory damages if you win a police misconduct lawsuit in New York. Here is what you can expect to receive in a successful claim:

  • Medical treatment: In some instances, an officer may exert force to enter your property. You can receive financial compensation to cover the costs of any medical treatment or rehabilitation that you need due to an injury a police officer caused.
  • Pain and suffering: Events like these are emotionally and psychologically taxing. You can be compensated for any physical or mental anguish you experienced due to the unlawful search and seizure.
  • Property damages: If the police officer destroyed your door, windows, or other entryways to gain access to your property, you could receive financial compensation for the damages induced.
  • Loss of business revenue: If a group of police officers unlawfully searched your business establishment, driving away your customers, you can receive financial compensation for the loss of income.

Many try to avoid agitating the police department for fear of further persecution. However, it’s vital to protect your constitutional rights and remember that you can take legal action against the NYPD for any wrongdoing during an unlawful search and seizure. The Pagan Law Firm can help fight for you. Contact us today!

What Can Unlawful Search and Seizure Lead To?

Many things could go wrong if you’re a victim of unlawful search and seizure. Here are some of the repercussions you might face if you’re subjected to it.

Wrongful Arrest and Imprisonment

A warrantless search and seizure could lead to a false arrest if the police find something illegal during their investigation. If there isn’t enough evidence for a conviction, you may still be arrested and held in prison until your trial.

Expensive Penalty Fines

Falsely arrested and charged victims could be fined if they can’t provide adequate proof that their rights were violated. You may be liable to pay a large sum — even if you are innocent.

Grave Emotional Turmoil

Unlawful search and seizure can be a traumatic experience, and victims may be subjected to verbal abuse, physical aggression, or hurtful words from the officers responsible for the search.

It is essential to seek legal help to protect your rights and obtain proper compensation for any emotional scarring you have experienced during an unlawful search and seizure.

Loss of Future Opportunities

Falsely charged victims may have to face repercussions for years. This could include a viewable criminal record, limiting their chances of getting hired by certain employers and creditors.

Tarnished Reputation

It’s hard to keep your dignity intact when you have been wrongly accused of a crime. False accusations can damage an individual’s reputation and relationships with others, especially if the incident occurs in public.

If you are a victim of police misconduct, you may be facing serious consequences.  Here at The Pagan Law Firm, we will be your advocate and will fight for you in court. Call us today at 212-967-8202 to speak with an attorney. 

How Can a Police Misconduct Attorney Help With Your Case?

Hiring experienced civil rights attorneys can mean the difference between winning or losing your lawsuit. These professionals understand the criminal system of police misconduct, which means they can build a solid case to get you the justice you deserve.

Here is how a civil rights attorney can help you win your case:

  • Conduct a reliable, independent investigation: Your lawyer can initiate an independent investigation of what happened and use the findings to build a strong case for your defense.
  • Explore various legal solutions: Civil rights lawyers have vast expertise in civil laws and can help you explore various legal solutions to your case.
  • Recover valid evidence to punish the abusive officer: Your lawyer can collect convincing evidence to punish the abusive officer and ensure you get compensation for any damages incurred.
  • Build a solid police misconduct lawsuit: Hiring an experienced lawyer with a history of handling police misconduct can help you build a solid case and win your lawsuit.
  • Maximize compensation recovery: Your attorney can help you maximize the compensation recovered from your case, ensuring that you receive fair and just compensation for your suffering.

Contact Our Police Neglect Law Firm Today

Police brutality happens around the nation. If you’re a victim of police misconduct, you need to hire an experienced civil rights attorney who can protect your legal rights and maximize the compensation recovered from your case.

If you’re looking for an experienced legal team to assist with your case, our attorneys at The Pagan Law Firm can help you. With a decade of civil rights expertise, our attorneys can provide you with astute legal counsel for your case.

Schedule your free consultation today with The Pagan Law Firm.

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