Constitutionality of a Search And Seizure of Evidence by Law Enforcement | State v. Kelly-Pallanta

State v. Kelly-Pallanta:

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

Defendant pled guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute following the denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized from his home pursuant to a search warrant. Defendant appealed the trial court’s October 17, 2017 order denying his motion to suppress the physical evidence seized during the search of his residence, and also claims the court erred by failing to award three days of jail credit to which he was entitled.

On June 5, 2017, Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office Detective submitted an affidavit for a search warrant of defendant’s address. The affidavit included information provided by a confidential informant that defendant was selling methamphetamine and was “known to reside” at that address. On June 6, 2017, the judge issued a second search warrant for the residence, describing the premises to be searched precisely as detailed in the affidavit. Officers then executed the second search warrant where the defendant resided and searched the main residence. Almost three hours later, following the issuance of the second search warrant, police officers searched the second and third floors of the residence, and found controlled dangerous substances and other drug paraphernalia in a third-floor bedroom.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the second search warrant violated the particularity requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 7 of the New Jersey Constitution. He claimed the detective’s second affidavit did not inform the court that the second and third floors consisted of numerous separately occupied bedrooms and the affidavit failed to identify that a bedroom was “targeted” for the search. Defendant claimed the second and third floors of the residence were not the “main residence” as stated in the search warrant but instead comprised separate residences in “a multiple tenant rooming house.”

The appellate court stated the search warrant affidavit adequately described that the confidential informant entered the front door of the residence and purchased methamphetamine from defendant while inside the residence. The court found that, employing the “practical accuracy” standard, the warrant on its face authorized entry into the main residence and, as such, satisfied the particularity requirement. The appellate court also found the third floor was part of the main residence for which the warrant was issued. The court explained the search was not invalid simply because the police may have discovered after entering the residence on the second floor that it also included a living area on the third floor. They held that the affidavit excluded other portions of the building from the search, and the warrant only permitted a search of the main residence and not the apartments on the first floor. Thus, the appellate court ruled that the search warrant had not improperly permitted a search of the entire structure. As a result, the appellate court affirmed the denial of defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence seized in the search warrant and his conviction and remanded for further consideration of defendant’s claim to three days of jail credits.

At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for appeals in Superior Court for issues like the present case pertaining to the constitutionality of a search and seizure of evidence by law enforcement. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation so that they receive the most favorable outcome as a result.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of the defendant in this case, 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.

Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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