Evidentiary Rulings Can Make or Break A Defense to a Criminal Action
Appellate Docket No.: A-1996-18T4
Decided January 26, 2021
Submitted by New Jersey Drug Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey reviewed a trial court’s denial of a motion to suppress in which detectives surveilled the defendant based on a confidential informant and prior knowledge of the defendant leading to an arrest for heroin, also reading into the record parts of a witness’ recorded statement when the witness said he did not remember the day in question at trial.
In State v. Kane, detectives observed a blue Mitsubishi Galant driving in the opposite direction. Detectives followed as they received information from several confidential informants that the defendant was distributing heroin. Detectives also knew the defendant from previous encounters.
Detectives observed co-defendant and witness approach the car from the driver’s side and reach through the window. Based on their training, detectives believed this was a narcotics transaction coupled with their prior knowledge of defendant. Detective approached the vehicle with badges displayed and observed a black plastic bag containing eighteen glassine envelopes of heroin and money on defendant’s lap.
Detectives placed the witness under arrest and recorded his statement back at the police station. The witness described the defendant’s appearance on the day in question.
Defendant was indicted for third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a) (count one); and third-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 (count two).
Defendant filed a motion to suppress the videotaped statement of the witness. This was after the witness stated that he didn’t recall any of the facts from that day. The trial court denied the motion, ruling that the State was permitted to read portions of the recorded statements into the record, but only those the witness does not remember and the transcript of the recorded statement cannot be submitted into evidence.
Defendant was convicted on both counts and sentenced to five years of Drug Court. Defendant appealed arguing the search was invalid and the statement should not have been admitted into evidence. The Appellate Division found the search to be valid, as detectives had a reasonable and articulable suspicion defendant was committing a crime based on the information from the confidential informants as well as the detectives’ prior knowledge of defendant. This allowed them to follow defendant and then after observing what they believed to be a narcotics transaction, they had probable cause to arrest the defendant. In plain view of the arrest was the heroin.
Further, the statement was appropriately admitted into evidence portions were read that the witness could not remember and the transcript was not submitted into evidence. The trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress was affirmed.
Evidentiary rulings can make or break a defense to a criminal action. Officers are required to have reasonable and articulable suspicions that crimes are being committed before investigating. Further, they need probable cause to effectuate an arrest. Failing to obtain the suspicion or probable cause may lead to the charges being dismissed. Be sure to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney well-versed in evidence issues. Failing to do so may result in inadmissible evidence being used to convict you.
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court for criminal matters like the present case. 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 town in New Jersey including Borough of Clayton, Township of Deptford, East Greenwich Township, Township of Elk, Township of Franklin, Borough of Glassboro, Township of Greenwich, Township of Harrison, Township of Logan, Township of Mantua, Township of Monroe, Borough of National Park, Borough of Newfield, Borough of Paulsboro, Borough of Pitman, Township of South Harrison, Borough of Swedesboro, Township of Washington, Borough of Wenonah, Township of West Deptford, Borough of Westville, City of Woodbury, Borough of Woodbury Heights, and Township of Woolwich.