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I live in Paterson and the police came into my house with a search warrant, now what?

The police came to my house with a search warrant, now what do I do?

Picture yourself sleeping on your bed in your house or apartment and all of a sudden the police storm into your room with guns blazing, yelling "Police, don't move, let me see your hands."

What should you do?

First, listen to what the police are asking you to do and do exactly what they tell you to do.  The police have their job to do, so you let them do it without interference and confrontation.  Once the situation is neutralized and things calm down ask the police if you are under arrest and if they have a search warrant to search the house/apartment. Ask to see a copy of the Search Warrant and a Receipt for what was taken.  Don't answer questions other than giving them your name and date of birth. Advise them you wish to have an attorney present prior to any questioning.  Remain silent!

What is a Search Warrant?

In the State of New Jersey, Rule 3:5 governs Search Warrants.  A search warrant may be issued by a judge of a court having jurisdiction in the municipality where the property sought is located.  A search warrant may be issued to search for and seize any property, including documents, books, papers, and any other tangible objects, obtained in violation of the penal laws of this State or any other state; or possessed, controlled, designed, or intended for use or which has been used in connection with any such violation; or constituting evidence of or tending to show any such violation.

What are the Contents of the Search Warrant

The police shall appear personally before the judge seeking a search warrant.  The Judge shall take the applicant's affidavit or testimony before issuing the warrant. The judge may also examine, under oath, any witness the applicant produces and may require that any person upon whose information the applicant relies appear personally and be examined under oath concerning such information.  If the judge is satisfied that grounds for granting the application exist or that there is probable cause to believe they exist, the judge shall date and issue the warrant identifying the property to be seized, naming or describing the person or place to be searched, and specifying the hours when it may be executed. The warrant shall be directed to any law enforcement officer, without naming an officer, and it shall state the basis for its issuance and the names of the persons whose affidavits or testimony have been taken in support thereof. The warrant shall direct that it be returned to the judge who issued it. See Rule 3:5-3 (a). 

A Superior Court judge may issue a search warrant upon sworn oral testimony of an applicant who is not physically present. Such sworn oral testimony may be communicated to the judge by telephone, radio, or other means of electronic communication. The judge shall contemporaneously record such sworn oral testimony by means of a tape-recording device or stenographic machine if such are available. See Rule 3:5-3(b).

Who can Execute a Search Warrant?

A search warrant may be executed by any law enforcement officer, including the Attorney General or county prosecutor or sheriff or members of their staff.

When must a Search Warrant be Executed?

The warrant must be executed within 10 days after its issuance and within the hours fixed therein by the judge issuing it, unless for good cause shown the warrant provides for its execution at any time of day or night.

Getting a Copy of Search Warrant

The officer taking property under the warrant shall give to the person from whom or from whose premises the property is taken a copy of the warrant and a receipt for the property taken or shall leave the copy and receipt at the place from which the property is taken.

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