Mount Holly Criminal Lawyer Discusses Entry Without a Warrant
A recent criminal case in New Jersey highlighted the importance of proper police procedure in obtaining evidence. A marijuana possession conviction was overturned by a New Jersey appeals court after it was determined that the arresting officer had unlawfully entered the property. Peter Samuells had initially pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 541 days in jail, but much of the evidence against him was deemed inadmissible.
Officers arrived at the house in question after receiving anonymous tips reporting shots fired and illegal weapons in the home. Samuells was a guest in the house when police surrounded the property. One officer knocked on the door and asked one of the occupants, co-defendant David Crawford, to bring in the dogs that were in the backyard. When he opened the back door, the officer at the rear of the property smelled marijuana, and scaled the fence. The officer then proceeded to arrest Crawford and conduct a search of the yard and the house.
Evidence Existed, But It Was Not Lawfully Obtained
Weapons, packaged marijuana, and marijuana plants were found in the house. A trial judge allowed these items to be presented as evidence because they were sitting in plain view, even though the officer searched the premises without a warrant. After being reviewed by a two-judge Appellate Division panel, however, they found that the officer had violated the defendants’ constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure when he entered the property without probable cause.
Police have the right to detain an individual suspected of engaging in unlawful activity, but only if the police are permitted to be where the arrest takes place. Police need either probable cause or a valid warrant to enter private property. The fence clearly delineated where the private property began and was intended to protect the property from the public. The smell of marijuana was not enough to establish probable cause for the officer to enter.
When an individual is under arrest, he or she still has rights that cannot be violated. Police have specific procedures to follow when conducting a search or making an arrest, and evidence that was obtained illegally cannot be used against someone in court. If you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey, an experienced Mount Holly criminal lawyer can review the facts of your case to ensure that your rights were not violated.
Mount Holly Criminal Lawyer Michele Finizio Gets Positive Results for Clients Facing Criminal Charges in New Jersey
Mount Holly criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Michele Finizio have the knowledge and experience to protect the rights of individuals facing criminal charges in New Jersey. Our dedicated legal team understands the many nuances of defending cases in both criminal and juvenile court as well as cases in New Jersey traffic and municipal court. Our criminal lawyers will pursue an aggressive legal strategy to get you the best outcome possible. With offices conveniently located in Moorestown, New Jersey we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including the communities of Cherry Hill, Moorestown and Haddonfield along with Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County and Salem County. Call us today at 856-599-5519 or contact us online to review your case with a qualified criminal defense attorney.