A New Jersey appellate court sided with the prosecution in a drug case and ruled that a Madison police officer did not need a search warrant to discover marijuana plants at a residence.
The case involved marijuana that was found in a smoke-filled home after firefighters responded to a 911 call. The marijuana plants were initially discovered by firefighters called to the scene by a neighbor who heard a smoke alarm going off. When firefighters showed up at the house, they searched the premises and allegedly came across marijuana plants in a closet.
A later search by police allegedly turned up additional drugs and drug-related items, including marijuana plants under a grow light in a closet, smoked joints, 87 small plastic bags, and a plastic container with marijuana residue.
The suspect in the case was arrested and later indicted on several charges, including third degree possession of marijuana, fourth degree possession of marijuana, and possession with intent to distribute in a school zone.
The suspect tried to suppress the evidence in court by arguing that the police officer had been tipped off by firefighters about the presence of the marijuana. However, the trial court rejected the suspect’s claims and determined that the firefighter did not specifically tell the police officer about the drugs. Since the marijuana was in plain view, the trial judge said, the evidence was admissible.
After the trial court rejected the defendant’s claims, the defendant pleaded guilty to fourth degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). However, he appealed the decision. Ultimately, the NJ appellate court agreed with prosecutors and rejected the defendant’s appeal because the marijuana was in plain view.
To learn more about this case, read the NJ.com article entitled “Madison Cops Didn’t Need Warrant to Find Pot Plants in Smoke-Filled Home, Court Rules.“