Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a New York gun possession case involving the denial of the defendant’s pre-trial motion to suppress. Motions to suppress are often the most critical stage of a trial in cases involving guns or drugs, especially where the contraband item is found on the defendant. In this case, the court ultimately upheld the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress, finding that the defendant gave the officers consent to search his car.
Consent is one of the few major exceptions to the warrant requirement. Generally, law enforcement needs a warrant to conduct a search of a person or their belongings. To obtain a warrant, an officer must establish that there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed, and the search would turn up evidence of that crime. However, if a suspect consents to a search, that eliminates the need for an officer to obtain a warrant. To be valid, consent must be voluntary, and cannot be forced or coerced. Courts look to the surrounding circumstances to determine the validity of a suspect’s consent.
According to the court’s opinion, police received a 911 call stating that a man was banging on a hotel door with a gun. Police arrived and began to speak with the defendant outside the hotel room. He was not handcuffed at the time.