Sunday, June 3, 2012

Suppression of Evidence from Illegal Search of a Passenger in NJ

Prior to a motor vehicle stop, the police received a telephone call regarding individuals fighting in the car and an individual fitting the description of the defendant was said to be in possession of a handgun. The police located and stopped the vehicle then questioned the driver away from the vehicle. After some discussion, police sought the driver's consent to search the vehicle and the police claim consent was knowingly and voluntarily given. Defendant's bag was searched by the East Orange police in conjunction with a search of the vehicle with the driver's verbal consent, it should be noted that no written consent form was provided at trial. Inside of defendant's bag, the police found a handgun, marijuana and a scale. The Essex County Superior Court held that the prosecution could not show the driver's consent to search was voluntary. The court also held that even if the consent was voluntary, there is no showing that the driver's consent to search the vehicle gave rise to the ability of the police to search the passenger's bag which was seen by the police to be only in the possession of the passenger, not the driver. Last, the court held that, in spite of the individual reporting the distress in the vehicle indicating defendant was in possession of a handgun, there were no exigent circumstances permitting an exception to the warrant requirement. If you were subject to a search by police, even if they obtained a warrant, and were charged with a crime based on evidence or information discovered during the search you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to protect your rights. For more information on criminal law in New Jersey visit

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