QUESTION

Can police search my home for one thing then charge me for something else?

Asked on May 01st, 2011 on Criminal Law - New Jersey
More details to this question:
I had two cops come into my apartment and say that there was a call by management about possible drug use here. I let them in and they asked to search and I let them. I am having problems here at my building. I am moving also. Can they search my place for the drugs and have it be another thing?
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32 ANSWERS
Answered on Jun 11th, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Yes.

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Answered on May 09th, 2011 at 4:12 PM
You gave them consent to search so yes, they can.

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Answered on May 06th, 2011 at 10:49 AM
Typically, cops must have a search warrant to come into your home and look for evidence. If they did not have a warrant and you had told them they could not enter, then they could not have legally searched your home. However, if you consented to them searching your home, then they would not have needed a warrant but that search should have been limited to the area or areas you told them they could search. If they discovered anything in that area or those areas, or if there was anything in plain view when they were searching those areas, then the state would argue that the search itself was valid and the evidence obtained was as well.

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Answered on May 05th, 2011 at 10:06 AM
Yes, your biggest mistake was consenting to the search. You did not have to allow them in. So whatever they find in the course of the search they can charge you with. You need to hire an experienced attorney, visit my website for more information.

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Answered on May 05th, 2011 at 9:32 AM
As long as the police have the legal right to be there either through a warrant, a warrant exception, or valid consent, if they discover any contraband, even if it was not what they were initially looking for, then yes they can seize it and charge you. I would advise you to retain an experienced criminal attorney soon.

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Answered on May 05th, 2011 at 8:54 AM
The quick answer is yes. Once you allowed the police into your home and submitted to a general search, any evidence of unlawful behavior they uncovered in the process would be able to be used against you. This can be limited by the scope of any sort of search warrant they may have had but it sounds as though you consented to the search without a warrant.

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Answered on May 04th, 2011 at 10:45 AM
Yes. Search and seizure law is complex and whether there was a violation of your rights ultimately depends on the details involved with the search. Here, it sounds like you consented to the search of your home. In doing so, they don't necessarily have to limit their search to just drugs. However, in order to determine whether there may have been a constitutional violation in your case, more detail is definitely needed. I hope this answer was helpful. Good luck.

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Answered on May 04th, 2011 at 10:20 AM
The short answer to your question is "yes." If you give a police officer consent to search, and it is stated that they are looking for a controlled substance, the fact that they find an illegal gun, evidence of a murder, or some other incriminating evidence will not generally be suppressed. The consent to search is not limited. I hope that this was helpful.

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Answered on May 04th, 2011 at 10:19 AM
The simple answer is, Yes. The more complicated question is, would the search be valid? First, never agree to any search. The police are interesting people. They will step between you and a bullet without hesitation, but when you are the subject of their interest they are no longer your friends. That being said, after you have given consent to a search, there are still some questions which need to be answered. Was the consent valid? Was the scope of the search expanded? These are issues which should be reviewed in detail with your attorney.

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Answered on May 04th, 2011 at 9:40 AM
Yes. As long as police are lawfully in your house, they can investigate whatever is in plain view.

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Answered on May 04th, 2011 at 9:36 AM
Because you consented to the search the police can search any place drugs may be. If during that time they find some thing illness they can arrest you for that.

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Answered on May 04th, 2011 at 9:24 AM
There is not enough information here for me to provide an accurate response. However, in most circumstances, yes. There are many search and seizure rules/laws however, if you invited the police in and they were searching for drugs, with your permission, and, in the course of that permissive search, found something else illegal, they could charge you.

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Answered on May 04th, 2011 at 9:04 AM
Unfortunately, the answer to your question is probably yes. Of course, I highly suggest you obtain a lawyer, you may have a search and seizure claim. I would need more information to fully advise you on your course of action. However, it appears you consented to a search of your residence. Without your consent, they could not have entered your apartment without a warrant. But since you consented, anything illegal they find can be used against you. With that being said, there search would have to be limited to plain view, i.e. something sitting on a counter, or coffee table, just something in plain site. They can't go digging through your closets just because you allow them in the apartment. Again, you may have a valid search and seizure Fourth Amendment Claim, and you may not. I would need more information. Please feel free to review my website and my Alabama Criminal Defense Blog.

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Answered on May 04th, 2011 at 9:02 AM
Yes they can. They may gain access to your home by search warrant or consent. You gave them consent. It doesn't matter why they requested access to your home or why you gave them consent. If they find evidence of any crime they may charge you with that crime.

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Answered on May 04th, 2011 at 8:53 AM
Yes, they can arrest you if they find something else that is illegal in a search for drugs. The best thing to do is refuse to allow them to search in the first place. Never give police consent to search your apartment without having a warrant. Good luck.

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Answered on May 04th, 2011 at 8:43 AM
A police officer can be searching for something or someone and find something in plain view. Depending on the circumstances he can seize that thing or get another search warrant.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 3:04 PM
Once you give the police your consent to search you close off your right to object to what they find. This is why search warrants were created, to limit the scope of the search to the supporting documents. When you freely consent to a search then everything is fair game.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 12:36 PM
They can search anywhere within the scope of their authority. If you consented for them to look for drugs, they can look anywhere drugs might reasonably be found. In that search, if they find something else illegal, yes, it's legal. But... If you gave consent to look for a stolen washing machine, they couldn't look in drawers.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 12:32 PM
Once you allowed them to search you became an open target to whatever they found!

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 12:29 PM
What "other thing"? You mean if they come in to search for drugs and find an illegal assault weapon? Need more info. But meanwhile, don't you watch any television - if you did you would know that you never allow the police to search unless they have a warrant.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Bad move letting the police in without a warrant. You did not say what else they found, but since a consensual search for drugs would involved a fairly detailed search, you have a search and seizure problem, for sure. You need to consult an experienced, knowledgeable local Criminal Defense Attorney, and provide more detailed information.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 11:53 AM
Generally, yes. Once you have consented to the search, they can use any evidence found against you. However, the search has to be within the scope of your consent (I.e. Limited to the area you gave them permission to search) and re initial consent must be obtained lawfully.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 11:42 AM
If the search of your home was conducted lawfully and other illegal items are discovered by law enforcement during their lawful search, you can be charged for the other illegal items. More information is needed to determine whether the items were lawfully seized in your case. Please contact our office for a free case evaluation if you would like more information.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 11:36 AM
If you let them come in to search and they find contraband or stolen items in plain view they can seize them and arrest you. The police should not open stuff to search inside without your specific permission.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 11:35 AM
It depends, but yes if something is in plain view and police are invited then the item is fair game. Just say no to consent searches by police.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 11:17 AM
If you give them consent to search then anything they discover within their view can be seized by the police. They would not be able to examine your computer contents but if they recognized it as stolen property their search would probably be upheld.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 11:16 AM
If the police discover contraband of any kind while lawfully searching your apartment then the police are permitted to charge you with possession of that item. You are still permitted to challenge the search in court to have a judge determine if it was lawfully seized.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 11:16 AM
Whenever police seek to search you or your property, or they have searched it and a criminal charge has resulted, you should hire a private attorney as quickly as possible. In the case where charges have not yet been filed, a public defender will not be assigned to you yet. When and whether or not police can use evidence against you can best be argued by an experienced private criminal defense attorney.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 11:14 AM
Yes, If you give the police permission to search your apartment for drugs, and they find a dead body or child pornography or automatic weapons (i.e. the other thing), then you will be arrested for the dead body, pornography and weapons. Good luck.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 11:14 AM
Your mistake was in letting them in without a warrant. Once you let them in and consent to a search, you risk charges if anything illegal is found during and within the reasonable scope of that search. Of course you can fight the charges. When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a search or confession be used against you, and can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all possible defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence and facts are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or at trial. You face potential jail and fines, so handle it right. Effective plea-bargaining, using those defenses, could possibly keep you out of jail, or at least dramatically reduce it. Go to trial if it can't be resolved with motions or a plea bargain. Not exactly a do it yourself project in court for someone who does not know how to effectively represent himself against a professional prosecutor intending to convict and jail you. If you don't know how to do these things effectively, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate. If serious about hiring counsel to help you in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me. Ill be happy to help use whatever defenses there may be.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 10:50 AM
You let them in, so it sounds like a voluntary search to me.

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Answered on May 03rd, 2011 at 10:46 AM
As long as the original warrant was valid and If it is illegal to have this contraband then yes.

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