Be Sure to Understand the Different Levels of Information Officers Need When Investigating to Be Able to Properly Make an Arrest and Charge Someone with a Crime

State v. Gaddy

Appellate Docket No.: A-3046-18

Decided March 11, 2021

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey reviewed a defendant’s motion to suppress after an anonymous tip provided that individuals were congregating and “engaging in disorderly activity” leading to defendant being charged with a weapons offense.

In State v. Gaddy, police were patrolling a high crime area when they received a telephone call from a “concerned citizen” who reported possible illicit activities. The caller claimed that “about five to seven individuals . . . were congregating and engaging in disorderly activity.  The police officer was aware that disorderly activity occurred there all the time such as drinking in public, narcotic and gang activity.  Police did not receive any information or description of defendant.

On arrival, the officers saw approximately six to seven individuals sitting and standing on the driveway that is adjacent to the sidewalk “engaging in disorderly activity.” When asked to specify, Williams responded: “Drinking in public, smoking, just being loud and tumultuous.”

Two men, later identified as defendant Gaddy and Troy White, immediately attracted his attention. Williams testified that as soon as he and Detective McCall alighted from their unmarked police car and identified themselves as police officers, both men “reached into the front of their waistband and turned their back . . . away from us and began running east towards the back fence of that yard.” Based on his training and experience, Williams “believed” these two men “might have been in possession of a weapon.”

Williams testified that he and other officers identified themselves as police officers and began to chase the two men. They ordered the two men to stop, to no avail. The police officers caught up to the two suspects seconds later, when they reached a tall fence. Williams saw defendant pull from his waistband what he “immediately recognized as a semi-automatic handgun . . . and throw it . . . over the fence into the adjacent yard.” The officers then “wrestled” defendant and White to the ground and handcuffed them.

A Union County Grand Jury returned indictment 18-05-0270 charging defendant Andre R. Gaddy with one count of second degree possession of a handgun by a person previously convicted of one of the offenses listed in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7b(1). A separate Union County Grand Jury returned indictment 18-05-0273 charging defendant with second degree unlawful possession of a handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b(l), fourth degree unlawful possession of hollow point bullets, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3f(l), third degree hindering apprehension, N.J.S.A. 29-3b(l), and third degree receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20- 7a.

Defendant moved to suppress the evidence arguing an illegal search.  The trial court found that the police were lawfully in the area because of the call from the anonymous tip. Although defendant was not allowed access to the identification of the caller, the caller provided enough information for police to respond and identify themselves as police. Upon doing so, they saw defendant in plain sight grab his waistband and run, then throw a gun over the fence.  Defendant’s motion to suppress was denied.

Defendant appealed and the Appellate Dvision affirmed on the same grounds.

The importance in this case is understanding the different levels of information officers need when investigating to be able to properly make an arrest and charge someone with a crime.  In order to observe or ask questions without any information, officers are permitted to do this so long as it is clear that the person can leave at any time and decline to answer.  In order to physically stop someone and detain them, officers need a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the person is committing a crime.  Last, in order to arrest or for search and seizure, officers need probable cause through a warrant or circumstances that would ordinarily permit officers to get a warrant.

Knowing these levels of information is crucial.  As in this circumstance, officers can perform a protective sweep incident to an arrest. Often times this is searching a person or a vehicle for weapons or something that the defendant could easily reach during an arrest.  Going into defendant’s home after arresting him outside and not inside prevented officers from further searching defendant’s home to secure the evidence.

If you or someone you know was in a situation similar to this, contact Hark & Hark today.

At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court for criminal matters like the present case involving motions to suppress. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to uphold their constitutional rights, and ensure law enforcement follow proper procedures to legally make an arrest.


We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties. We represent clients in all towns in New Jersey, including Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Edison, Woodbridge, Lakewood, Toms River, Hamilton, Trenton, Clifton, Camden, Brick, Cherry Hill, Passaic, Middletown, Union City, Old Bridge, Gloucester Township, East Orange, Bayonne, Franklin Township, North Bergen, Vineland, and Union.

Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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