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Court Finds Warrant Inappropriate

In 2003, the Village of Westbury in New York created a question of law that is bound to have effects across the state. A New York DWI Lawyer said the situation was born of a problem with an illegal boarding house. The laws of the villages in the state of New York vary according to the different locations, but most of them have zoning restrictions that prevent multiple families from living in homes that are designated by code as being single family dwellings. Homes are given certificates of occupancy when they are built. These certificates of occupancy label the home as either multiple family or single family dwellings. More than one family is not permitted to live in a home that is designated as a single family dwelling.

In this case, a code enforcement officer obtained a search warrant for a house that was located in the Village of Westbury. He based his probable cause for obtaining the warrant on the fact that numerous cars belonging to numerous different families were parked at the location. There were separate entrances to what appeared to be a basement apartment. Three confidential informants came forward and informed him that the owners of the house were charging undocumented workers large sums of money to live in the home. The garbage collector testified that the garbage that was generated from the house was three or four times the average amount of trash that he collects at other houses in the area. The water and electric bills also indicated that more people than the norm were living in the house. With this huge amount of probable cause behind him, the code enforcement officer applied for a warrant. His warrant detailed that he was seeking evidence that more than one family was living in the home in violation of the housing code of the village. The warrant limited the evidence to be removed in that only pictures and videos of the residence would be permitted to be removed from the residence.

The warrant was executed in the early morning hours at about six in the morning. The warrant had specifically stated that because it was a code enforcement administrative warrant and not one of criminal origin, it would not be appropriate to execute the warrant before six in the morning or after nine o’clock at night. The warrant was executed right at the stroke of six. A New York DWI Lawyer that increased the possibility that the officers executing the warrant would encounter a violent incident. When dealing with a situation of forced entry into a person’s home, violence is always a possibility. That possibility of violent reception increases when a person is groggy from sleep and unable to process the situation as quickly as they would if they were not roused from sleep. In this situation, the officers did not encounter violence, but they did run the names and personal identification of the occupants in an attempt to locate individuals who had warrants out against them. They also photographed the occupants of the house, some of these people were only partially clothed because they had been taken from their beds.

The court decided that it was inappropriate for the warrant to have been served that early in the morning. They also determined that it was inappropriate for the officers involved in the search warrant execution to have photographed the occupants of the house. The scope of the warrant was for evidence that there was more than one family living in the single family dwelling. The argument that the people themselves proved that is not necessary. A Nassau County DWI Lawyer said the pictures of the individually locked bedrooms, additional bathrooms, kitchens and other plumbing were all sufficient to have proven the case. This case brought questions about the legality of administrative search warrants to the notice of the public.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its housing lawyers there are convenient offices throughout New York State and Metropolitan area. Our immigration attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Hiring a criminal Lawyer can prevent you from losing precious time with your family.