Illegal Search Drug Charges Morris County NJ
Handling drug arrests in Morris Plains NJ
Have you been arrested and charged with drug possession in Morris Plains? We can help. Here is a real case we successfully handled for one of our happy clients.
In 2012, Travis J. Tormey represented a client who was charged with possession of marijuana in Morris Plains Municipal Court. Because of Mr. Tormey’s efforts on his client’s behalf, Morris Plains NJ marijuana possession charges were dismissed due to an illegal search. The charge was classified as a disorderly persons offense, meaning that Mr. Tormey’s client faced up to six (6) months in the county jail. Additionally, a conviction would leave Mr. Tormey’s client with a permanent criminal record.
The defendant in the case had been stopped for careless driving. The arresting officer allegedly asked for and received consent to search the vehicle, leading to the seizure of marijuana. However, when Mr. Tormey reviewed the discovery package provided by prosecutors, it became clear that this was not a voluntary consent search; it had actually been an unlawful search without a warrant.
A law enforcement officer must always get a warrant to search a vehicle or a home, unless a permitted exception to the warrant requirement exists. One such exception is the “plain view” exception, which allows an officer to search a vehicle if the drugs are sitting on the passenger seat, in plain view.
Another valid exception is “consent,” which allows an officer to search a vehicle if the driver has consented to the search. However, there are limitations on this exception: the consent must be voluntary and the officer must inform the driver that he or she has the right to refuse consent. If the driver agrees to allow a search of his or her vehicle, the officer will typically provide the driver with a consent-to-search form, which must be signed before the officer can search the vehicle.
Morris County Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers
In this case, the consent search was not valid. Mr. Tormey obtained an audio recording of the interaction between the law enforcement officer and the defendant. The audio recording demonstrated that the defendant had refused to consent to a search of his vehicle at least 14 times over a 35-minute period. During that time, the arresting officer summoned several other officers to the scene to try to convince Mr. Tormey’s client to consent to a “voluntary” search of the vehicle. It was only after 35 minutes of badgering that the defendant signed a “voluntary” consent-to-search form, resulting in the discovery of marijuana in the vehicle.
Mr. Tormey prepared a transcript of the audio recording, which he used to support his motion to suppress the illegally seized evidence. The consent to search was not voluntary, meaning that the State did not have a valid exception to the warrant requirement. Mr. Tormey conferenced the case with the judge and the prosecutor, and all parties agreed that the search was not valid. When the prosecution agreed to dismiss all charges against Mr. Tormey’s client, it represented a major victory for the Tormey Law Firm.