Phillips & Associates

Warrantless Entry / Warrantless Search

Legal Representation for Victims of Civil Rights Violations in New York City

In order to enter and search your home, the police usually need a search warrant. To get a warrant, they will need to show they have probable cause to believe that there is evidence of criminal activity in the home, or on someone's body. At Phillips & Associates, our civil rights attorneys can help New York City residents pursue justice after a warrantless entry or search.

Warrantless Entry and Search

Although the police typically require a warrant in order to search a person's home or person, there is an exception when the exigencies of the situation make the needs of the police officers so compelling that a warrantless search is objectively reasonable. For example, if the police are pursuing a suspect whom they witnessed buying drugs and who flees into his home, they are considered to be in hot pursuit, and there is no time to get a warrant. In that case, they can conduct a warrantless entry.

If you are subject to a warrantless entry or warrantless search, you can bring a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 allows plaintiffs to sue those who deprive them under color of state law of federal Constitutional or statutory rights. In a warrantless entry and search case, the Constitutional violation is usually the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, if you consented to a warrantless search, you cannot bring a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

For claims under § 1983, you will need to prove that the warrantless entry or search was attributable at least in part to a person who was acting under color of state law and that the warrantless entry or search deprived you of a right guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.

It may be possible to sue police officers who entered without a warrant, as well as supervisors. In general, if you seek monetary damages, you would need to show the personal responsibility of any defendant. This does not mean that every defendant directly participated in the warrantless search and entry.

A supervisor can be considered personally involved in depriving someone of constitutional rights where he or she directly participated in the warrantless entry or search, failed to remedy the wrong after finding out about the warrantless entry or search, created a policy or custom under which warrantless entries and searches occurred or were allowed to continue, acted with gross negligence in managing a subordinate that caused the warrantless entry and search, or demonstrated deliberate indifference or gross negligence to a plaintiff's right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by failing to act despite actual or constructive notice.

Typically, plaintiffs do not sue solely for a warrantless entry and search, but also for police officers' conduct once they enter. In many cases, there are multiple causes of action that accompany the claim of a Fourth Amendment violation, such as false arrest, excessive force, assault and battery, malicious prosecution, or abuse of process. For example, after a warrantless entry and search, the residents of the home may be subject to verbal abuse or a strip search, or they may be cuffed and placed on the floor.

Consult a New York City Attorney for a Claim of Police Misconduct

If you are subject to a warrantless entry and search in New York City, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. It is always difficult to sue police and their supervisors. There is a shortened window of time within which to provide notice of your suit in the event that you want to bring common law claims against the municipality as well, so you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. At Phillips & Associates, our civil rights lawyers offer experienced representation for victims of police misconduct throughout New York City, including in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or contact us through our online form.

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