What constitutes an unlawful search?

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What constitutes an unlawful search?

I was sitting in my friend’s car at about 7:30 a.m when 2 cops pulled up to us. They came over to us asking if they searched his car would they find anything, to which we replied, “No”. One cop then told me he would drive me to school and when we walked to his car he stopped and told me to put my hands behind my back. I replied, “I’m a minor, you can’t search me”. Then he proceeded to search me, and Istated once more that I was a minor. He found a bag of marijuana (about .3 grams). I was than arrested. I am 17 and there was no probable cause for a search.

Asked on November 9, 2010 under Criminal Law, New Jersey

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You didn't indicate where you were when sitting in your friend's car. Were you by the school or away from the school.  Police have less than probable cause burden.  They also have articulable suspicion.  You need to speak with a criminal defense attorney about the fact you were a minor.  But, if you or your friend raised in some way (by your actions or location during the early morning hours of a school day) articulable suspicion that you had contraband (weapons), the police can lie to you to get you out of the car and pat you down.  If they feel something and find it (thinking it is contraband), then the search and seizure are most likely legal.  A criminal defense attorney will go over all of the facts, review the police report and decide what is the best route for you.


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