Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fleeing Police, Without More, Does Not Give Probable Cause to Search in NJ

Police saw defendant's car in a driveway with another individual, a known drug offender, leaning in the window. When the defendant saw the police he drove out of the driveway in spite of officer's commands to stop. The officer eventually caught up with the defendant's vehicle, ordered defendant out of the car and discovered heroin in plain view. Defendant was charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute. The Court below held defendant's presence in the driveway with the known drug offender did not provide reasonable suspicion giving rise to authority for temporary detention but, defendant's failure to obey the order to stop gave reasonable suspicion necessary to justify the stop of his vehicle. Defendant ultimately pled guilty to possession of heroin with intent to distribute in a school zone and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute but appealed the denial of his motion to suppress evidence based on the theory that the officer's order to stop was a seizure in violation of his constitutional rights. But for the initial intrusion of the police without reasonable suspicion, the later events leading to the discovery of the controlled dangerous substances (CDS) would not have occurred therefore the CDS, when discovered, were "fruit of the poisonous tree" and must be suppressed under Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471 (1963). The State may circumvent the exclusionary rule if the evidence is so attenuated from the unlawful police actions that it serves to "dissipate the taint" from the unlawful actions. State v. Badessa, 185 N.J. 303, 311 (2005) The evidence against defendant was obtained as a direct result of the unconstitutional police action and no attenuation occurred therefore the N.J. Supreme Court held the heroin must be suppressed. If you are facing criminal charges and feel your rights were violated by an unconstitutional search, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately in order to protect your rights. For more information on search and seizure, drug possession or distribution charges and other criminal law matters, in New Jersey visit This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney regarding your specific matter.

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