The Particularity Requirement in New York Search Warrants

Under the state and federal constitutions, individuals have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally, this requires that police officers obtain a warrant before searching a person’s home. However, just because the police get a warrant does not mean that the warrant itself cannot be challenged.

To be valid, a search warrant must list with “particularity” the places to be searched. This requirement ensures that a search conducted pursuant to a valid warrant remains reasonable. In a recent New York gun case, the court discussed the particularity requirement.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, police officers obtained a warrant allowing them to search a particular residence. The warrant contained the correct street address. However, when police officers arrived to execute the warrant, they were told that the unit is actually three separate living spaces. The defendant apparently lived on the third floor, his mother on the first, and an unrelated party on the second floor.

Police officers searched the first and third floors, finding a gun that they claim belonged to the defendant. Officers did not search the second floor when the resident provided them with identification.

In a pretrial motion, the defendant sought suppression of the gun, challenging the validity of the warrant. The defendant claimed that the warrant was defective because it failed to state with particularity the places to be searched.

However, the court rejected the defendant’s argument. Preliminarily, the court explained that, on its face, the warrant was valid because it only allowed officers to search a single residence. However, the question then became whether the officers knew of any information indicating that the warrant was obtained on inaccurate information.

The court concluded that police officers had no such knowledge. The court explained that the outside of the home did not display multiple addresses, had only one front door, and looked like a single-unit home.

The court explained that the defendant could have presented evidence that would have potentially changed the result. For example, had the defendant presented evidence that unrelated parties lived in certain portions of the building, and that he lacked access to those parts, it may have rendered the warrant invalid. While the defendant presented evidence from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development indicating the home consisted of three “A” units, this fell short of proving that the defendant lacked access to the whole home.

Have You Been Arrested After Police Executed a Search Warrant?

If you were arrested and charged with a crime after police searched your home, do not give up hope. The dedicated New York criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel command an impressive knowledge of search-and-seizure law, and can review your case to determine police may have relied on an invalid warrant. If so, any evidence obtained in the search must be suppressed. To learn more about how we can help you defend against the charges you face, call (914) 428-7386 to schedule a free consultation today.