Search and Seizure Developments in New York

Search and Seizure

As criminal defense attorneys in White Plains, New York our office is fortunate to practice criminal law in Westchester, Orange and the surrounding counties. Doing so there is a wide practice by police departments and courts regarding search and seizure and suppression. This criminal law blog provides a basic update on new search and seizure laws in New York.

One of the most important aspects of criminal defense law is moving to suppressing illegally obtained evidence from an accused. If an accused 4th Amendment rights were violated suppression will result and in many instances the prosecutions entire case will fail.

The top criminal defense attorneys in New York will review any case in which evidence is seized for potential suppression. This includes weapons, drugs, urine or blood samples or any other evidence of a crime.

Search and Seizure comes in many different forms. A search of a person, car, house, office, business, bags or even garbage. It is important to know the search and seizure law in New York as it pertains to each of the above examples as every factual situation is different. Below are some examples of recent search and seizure case law in New York.


In People v Omowale, 83 AD3d 614, the Court held that evidence should have been suppressed when the defendant was arrested in 2007 after officers approached him for double parking, where the defnedant did not offer the driver's license of another person to the police as his own or impersonate anyone. While it is likely the defendant considered passing off the license he was holding as his, holding it in his hand did not constitute a punishabkle attempt to commit criminal impersonation.

Search of Backpack

In People v Evans, 922 NYS2d 403 it was held that the court shouyld not have denyed a criminal defense motion to supress beacuse there was no proff of exigent circumstances that would justify the warrantless search of the defendant's closed backpack. There was no emergency circumstances where the defendant and two others were arrested for smoking marijuana in plain view and they were all in handcuffs and surrounded by police officers and a 12 foot high fence when the officers decided to search the backpack. There was no evidence that the officers feared for thier safetyduring the arrest of that the defendantor his freienbds acted in an aggressive or hostile manner nor did the officer's think there was any contraband in the backpack. Lastly, there was no evidence that the defendant could have gottent o the backpack to destroy evidence.

Search of Abandoned Objects

In People v Harris, 83 AD3d 1220, the court held that when the defendant deposited trash in the closed dumpster of a private apartment complex where he lived for removal by a private hauling company rather than putting it on the street for removal by a public garbage department there is no distinction between the two. There is no expectation of privacy in trash left in a public space for removal by a third party. Trash disposed of in a communal place where others can access it with the understanding that it will be removed by a third party is deemed abandoned.

Search Warrants

In People v Gavazzi, 921 NYS2d 742 the court found a search warrant to be invalid where on the warrant the wrong court was listed, it ws illegibly signed and contained no other information by the issuing court it failed to comply with the requirements of the Penal Law.

In the criminal defense if seized property the criminal defense attorney need to review all of the surrounding facts and if necessary prepare a suppression motion. The fine details of the case are very import to the court in determining suppression.