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Defendant Argues that Search of Vehicle was Illegal


Whenever evidence of a crime is discovered by police during an inventory search of a person’s vehicle, it is subject to scrutiny. Inventory searches are administrative searches. That means that the police department or agency maintains documents in their standard operating procedures manual that indicates that an inventory of an arrested person’s vehicle will be performed incident to that arrest. A New York Drug Crime Lawyer said the reason for inventory searches is that people often make allegations that items are missing from their vehicles. The inventory of the person’s vehicle incident to their arrest is to determine what exactly is in the vehicle. Anything that appears to be valuable needs to be removed and placed into evidence or property so that the person can re-claim their valuables upon getting out of jail. The police department is protected from allegations of theft, and all valuables are protected for the individual.

However, in many cases, illegal items, narcotics, open alcoholic beverage container, stolen credit cards, and other items are located during the inventory of a vehicle. It is at that point that the officer must be able to prove that the search was an administrative search and not a search for contraband. That is why it is important for police officers to have their procedures documented.

In a case that was decided before the Supreme Court of New York County on November 18, 2009, a defendant who was charged with one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the second degree and with driving under the influence of alcohol. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said he man was arrested following a traffic stop. The officer stated that he observed a Lexus pulled up to a fire hydrant. There was a white male behind the wheel of the car. When the officer pulled up, the man got out of the car and approached the officer. The officer stated that the man’s eyes were glassy and bloodshot, he exuded a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage from about his person, and he was unsteady on his feet.

He was asked to take field sobriety tests and he refused. He was arrested for DUI. He also refused the breathalyzer test at the precinct where his car was inventoried. During the course of conducting the inventory search of the car, the defendant’s sister arrived at the precinct. She introduced herself to the officers. She identified herself as a Metropolitan Transit Police Officer and noticed that she had graduated from the police academy with the arresting officer in the case.

She accompanied him out to the car and he released many of the defendant’s personal items into her custody. A Nassau County Drug Possession Lawyer said while conducting the inventory, he moved to inventory the trunk. When he opened the trunk, he observed a closed bag. When he looked inside the bag, he located a firearm. The defendant was notified of the additional charge.

In court, the defendant maintained that the gun was the fruit of the poisonous tree under the Exclusionary Rule. The Exclusionary Rule states that any evidence of any crime that is obtained pursuant to an illegal search is inadmissible in court as evidence unless the police can show that they would have inevitably discovered the evidence anyway.

In this situation, a Queens Drug Possession Lawyer said the defendant claimed that he was not driving the car. He stated that he was already outside the car when the officer arrived. This would have made an impound of the vehicle pursuant to an arrest invalid and any proceeds from that search would have been illegal.

The court found that the search was within the guidelines set forth in the procedure manual and thus the search was upheld and the gun was ruled as valid evidence. Stephen Bilkis & Associates have Criminal Lawyers who can fight for you. Their New York DUI Lawyers are familiar with handling cases in criminal courts where the Exclusionary Rule is an issue. Many items can fall into the category of illegal searches when the case is DWI. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we have offices throughout New York and the Metropolitan area. Being able to defend the client’s interest is of the utmost importance to us.

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