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Understanding Search and Seizure Laws in New Hampshire

Wiberg Law Office, PLLC
Policeman searching car

The rights of individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures are enshrined in the United States Constitution and the New Hampshire State Constitution.  

Attorney Sven Wiberg, with over 30 years of experience in the legal field, some of them as a prosecuting attorney, has an in-depth understanding of search and seizure laws.  

His firm serves clients in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as well as the communities of Rockingham County, Strafford County, Hillsborough, Dover, and Manchester, Attorney Wiberg is a zealous advocate for his clients and is known for his well-planned defense strategies.  

The Fourth Amendment and New Hampshire Law

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution offers protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. The state Constitution of New Hampshire mirrors these protections, ensuring that citizens' rights are also safeguarded under local law.  

However, understanding how these protections are applied in New Hampshire requires insight into specific state statutes and legal precedents. 

Consent Searches

One of the most common ways law enforcement may search without a warrant is through consent. In New Hampshire, if an individual voluntarily consents to a search, law enforcement officers do not need a warrant. However, consent must be given freely and not coerced.  

Attorney Wiberg often emphasizes the importance of understanding one's rights when interacting with law enforcement to ensure that consent is truly voluntary. 

Search Warrants in New Hampshire

For law enforcement to obtain a search warrant in New Hampshire, they must demonstrate that a crime has been committed and that evidence relevant to the crime can be found in the place to be searched. The process involves submitting an affidavit to a judge or magistrate who then decides whether the criteria for a warrant have been met.  

Due to his experience and understanding of this process, Attorney Wiberg can spot issues and plan defense strategies that may be overlooked by others. 

Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement

There are several exceptions to the warrant requirement you should be aware of. These include exigent circumstances, the plain view doctrine, search incident to arrest, and automobile searches. Each of these exceptions has specific criteria that must be met for the search to be considered lawful. 

Exigent Circumstances 

This exception allows for searches without a warrant when law enforcement believes that waiting for a warrant would lead to the destruction of evidence, the escape of a suspect, or harm to others. 

Plain View Doctrine 

If law enforcement is lawfully present at a location and observes incriminating evidence in plain view, they may seize the evidence without a warrant. 

Search Incident to Arrest 

After making a lawful arrest, officers may search the arrested person and the immediate surroundings.  

Automobile Searches 

Law enforcement officers may search an automobile without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe it contains evidence of a crime. 

Inventory Searches 

Inventory searches are conducted by law enforcement on vehicles that have been impounded or otherwise lawfully taken into custody. These searches are conducted to inventory the items within the vehicle.  

This exception to the warrant requirement is meant to protect the owner's property while in police custody, to protect the police from potential disputes over lost or stolen property, and to ensure the safety of police officers. 

Border Searches 

Given New Hampshire’s proximity to international borders, border searches stand as another exception. Federal law allows customs and border protection officers to conduct searches at borders and ports of entry without a warrant.  

This is based on the government's interest in regulating and protecting its boundaries. While New Hampshire may not have an international land border, its airports and checkpoints fall under this exception, allowing for warrantless searches in the interest of national security. 

Search and Seizure Laws in New Hampshire

New Hampshire law provides additional protections beyond the federal baseline. RSA 595-A, for instance, the statute that governs wiretapping and eavesdropping, requires a warrant for most types of electronic surveillance. Understanding local laws is important if you’re facing search and seizure issues in the state. 

What to Do During a Search and Seizure

If you find yourself the subject of a search or seizure in New Hampshire, you should act in a way that protects your interests. Here is a brief checklist: 

  1. Remain calm and do not interfere with law enforcement. If the search is being conducted without a warrant or clear legal justification, you should clearly state that you do not consent to it.  

  1. Document important details about the search, including officers' names and badge numbers, can be helpful. 

  1. Contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Sven is a formidable advocate for those facing legal challenges related to searches and seizures.  

Having worked on both sides of the courtroom, he is familiar with both the prosecution's tactics and the defense's strategies. ensuring that every client receives sophisticated legal representation tailored to their case. 

Attorney Wiberg: Your Go-To Courtroom Ally

Understanding search and seizure laws in New Hampshire can make a significant difference to the outcome of your case. Attorney Sven Wiberg defends your rights with strong advocacy, preparation, and smart legal tactics. 

If you’re local to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Rockingham County, Strafford County, Hillsborough, Dover, or Manchester, and looking for expert legal help, Wiberg Law Office, PLLC, stands ready to help. 

Understanding your rights and having an experienced criminal attorney on your side is the first step toward dealing with legal challenges successfully.