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Searches Without Warrants

Searches Without Warrants

Civil Rights Attorneys Defend NYers from Searches without Warrants

$3 Millionfor the family of an African immigrant wrongly shot and killed by a police officer at a Chelsea warehouse

Protecting you after police misconduct in New York

In America, the public should not live in fear of their homes being invaded and ransacked, their lives imperiled and their belongings carted off without due process of law. Unfortunately, residents of New York City too often confront that scenario. Some police officers, acting only on racial profiles, illegally “stop and frisk” innocent persons. Others operate above the law, destroying property and harassing residents. If you have been the victim of “stop and frisk,” a warrantless search and/or an illegal seizure of your property, Rubenstein & Rynecki can help. We have a long history of successful civil rights actions against the NYPD. If you have suffered unnecessarily due to police misconduct, our dedicated attorneys will fight to deliver the compensation you deserve.

Can you sue for damages for an unlawful search?

A police search is inconvenient and demeaning at best, and can easily result in damaged property and physical injury. When that search is illegal, the police must compensate you for the violation of your civil rights and your losses. Legal action for a warrantless search is often part of a larger lawsuit for police brutality, as cops look for evidence of a crime, such as drug use, to justify their unlawful use of force. However, the mere fact that an officer initiates a search without a warrant does not automatically make the search illegal.

Understanding the warrant requirement

Our system of checks and balances curbs police power by requiring officers to apply for a warrant from a judge before making a search of a premises or a vehicle. The judge is only to issue a warrant when an officer can show probable cause, that is, grounds for a reasonable belief that a crime has likely been committed. But not every search requires a warrant. Exceptions exist for:

  • Consent — The person to be searched, or a person who controls a premises or a vehicle gives the officer permission to make the search
  • Plain view — If evidence of a crime is in plain view, the officer may seize it. For example, if the officer makes a legal traffic stop and spots a gun lying on the driver’s seat, the officer may seize the gun without a warrant to search the car.
  • Search incident to arrest — When an officer arrests a suspect, the officer is entitled to search the suspect to discover any weapons that might endanger the officer.
  • Exigent circumstances — An officer may act to preserve evidence that is likely to be destroyed before a warrant can be issued.
  • Automobile exception — If probable cause exists, an officer can search a vehicle for evidence of the crime to prevent the evidence from being moved to another location.
  • Hot pursuit — If an officer is in pursuit of a suspect, the officer may continue the pursuit after the suspect enters private property.

These exceptions give police a great deal of leeway. To win your case, you need experienced legal representation.

Contact our civil rights attorneys if you’ve been the victim of a warrantless search in NYC

The Constitution protects you from unreasonable police harassment, including warrantless searches of your person, your premises and your vehicle. The civil rights attorneys at Rubenstein & Rynecki fight to hold the NYPD accountable when its officers violate the law. To learn why our firm could be your best choice to uphold your civil rights, schedule a free consultation by calling us at 718-522-1020 or contacting our office online.

Case Results

  • $62 million verdict

    $62 million verdict for medical malpractice causing double amputation

  • $22.9 million verdict

    $22.9 million verdict (reduced on appeal) for a motorcyclist struck by a milk truck in Queens

  • $17.9 million

    $17.9 million for medical malpractice causing amputation of hands and feet