Friday, December 6, 2013

New Jersey Supreme Court Rules that When You Move from Your Home or Apartment Make Sure that You Remove Your Illegal Drugs

Prepared as a Public Service to the People by the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.

In the recent New Jersey Supreme Court case, State v. Hinton, the court ruled that when a tenant is evicted or moves permanently from their apartment that the tenant no longer has any reasonable expectation of privacy.

In this case Mr. Hinton was legally removed from his apartment based on a warrant of removal.  When the court officer arrived to change the locks and do a safety inspection it was discovered that Mr. Hinton had left his stash of heroin and cash in his bedroom.  Upon discovering this, the court officer notified the local police you entered the apartment without a warrant. 

Although the Appellate Division suppressed the drugs, on the basis that the police violated the defendant’s reasonable expectation of privacy, the Supreme Court reversed holding that the tenant no longer had this privacy right.

Although on its face this case appears to be an innocuous decision limited to the facts; it appears, however, that this case is of concern to the defense bar.  This is the first case in many years which refused to follow the automatic standing rule with all personal property.

Under Governor Christi’s Supreme Court appointment, the court is becoming more conservative and a clear shift in the slow evisceration of the constitutional protections previously afforded defendants in this state.

Quote of the Day: “There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”  President James Madison

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