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Court Discusses Search Warrants


The issue of search warrants and the rights of Americans to be free from illegal and unreasonable search and seizure in their own homes is balanced by the responsibility of the legislature and law enforcement to ensure that those laws are fair and enforced lawfully. What that means is that a judge has to be very conscious of the impact that signing a search warrant has on the community as a whole. A New York Sex Crime Lawyer said that every time that a search warrant is signed in the United States, a judge is permitting law enforcement to encroach on the sanctity of the home that the warrant is for. In criminal cases, the lines are often drawn clearly. However, in civil cases involving code violations, the laws are not so clear.

One case that involved a search warrant for a code violation occurred on September 25, 2003 when a judge in the Village of Westbury in Nassau, New York, signed a search warrant on a code violation. The code violation was for running an illegal boarding house in the Village. The investigation that resulted in the issuance of the warrant was a lengthy one. The details of the warrant that established that an illegal boarding house was being operated in the Village involved months of stakeouts and a recording of numerous license plates that demonstrated that more than one family was living in the one family dwelling house. In fact, the warrant was issued for evidence of more than one family including locked doors to individual rooms, illegal plumbing, and multiple vehicles located at the residence. A New York Sex Crime Lawyer said the warrant was signed by a Village judge based on the facts that were presented by a code enforcement officer to the judge. The details of the evidence were well documented and the warrant was issued. The judge placed on the warrant that it could be executed by any police officer of the County of Nassau.

However, a code enforcement officer is not usually considered a police officer. A code enforcement officer is more commonly considered a peace officer of the state of New York. So in essence, the officer who obtained and possessed the warrant was not named as an official for the purposes of executing the warrant. However, the code enforcement officer took with him several police officers of the County of Nassau to execute the warrant, so that issue became moot. The problem with the warrant was that during the execution of the warrant, several of the law enforcement officers photographed occupants and asked questions of the occupants.

An appeal was filed on Fourth Amendment Issues. The court was asked to review the legality of the warrant and the tickets that were issued as a result. The evidence that was photographed by the officers was taken into account since the law enforcement officers treated the civil warrant exactly as they would have treated a criminal warrant. A Nassau County Sex Crimes Lawyer said nor obvious reasons the officers were placed in danger by invading the solace of a home before six in the morning. Many of the occupants were only partially dressed at the time of the warrant. The court considered that the steps that had been taken by the code enforcement officer in executing the warrant at that hour of the morning had placed the other officers at higher risk than executing it during the daytime hours would have. The warrant for plumbing and locks could well have been executed without as much risk during the daytime and resulted in the same citations that were issued after rousing the inhabitants from their beds. A Queens Sex Crimes Lawyer said the court ruled that the steps taken to advance the warrant were extreme and should not be repeated in the Village.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its civil Lawyers there are convenient offices throughout New York State and Metropolitan area. Our code enforcement Attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Hiring a criminal attorney can prevent you from losing precious time with your family.

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