Recently, a state appellate court released an opinion in a New York gun case requiring the court to determine if the officers’ search of the defendant’s car, which was parked outside his home, was within the scope of the search warrant. Ultimately, the court determined that the defendant’s car was not covered by the search warrant and ordered the suppression of all evidence obtained from the vehicle.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, police officers were investigating the defendant for selling heroin from his home. Officers watched on several occasions as the defendant and another man would walk out of the defendant’s home, meet up with someone who pulled up in a car, and exchange items for money. The officers also arranged a controlled buy.
Taking the information they gathered during their investigation, the officers obtained a search warrant. Specifically, the warrant affidavit claimed that there was probable cause to search the defendant and his home. However, when officers arrived to execute the warrant, they also searched his car, finding a loaded gun and other drug-related evidence.
In a pretrial motion to suppress, the defendant claimed that the search of his vehicle was in violation of his constitutional rights. More specifically, he argued that the police officers lacked probable cause to search the car because neither the search warrant nor any of the officers’ observations on the day the warrant was executed implicated his vehicle in any way. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the prosecution appealed.
On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision. The court explained that search warrants must “describe with particularity the areas to be searched.” Here, the search warrant listed the defendant’s person and home but did not mention his vehicles. The court explained that a search warrant authorizing the search of a home, without more, does not provide automatic permission to search any vehicles parked outside the home. The court explained that the reverse was also true; in that officers who have authority to search a person’s car cannot search their home simply because the car is parked in front of the home.
Interestingly, the court acknowledged that the law in other jurisdictions may have allowed the search. However, the court was not bound by those decisions and, in interpreting New York law, found the search to be illegal.
Have You Been Arrested Following an Illegal Search?
If you face New York gun charges and believe that officers discovered the weapon as a result of an illegal search, reach out to the dedicated criminal defense lawyers at Tilem & Associates for assistance. Our knowledgeable New York criminal defense attorneys represent clients facing all types of serious allegations, including gun possession, drug sales, assaults, burglaries, and more. We are aware of the common techniques police use to justify their questionable actions and can effectively expose illegal police activity. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 877-377-8666. You can also reach us through our online form.