Motion To Suppress Evidence Obtained Unlawfully Without a Warrant

State of New Jersey v. Javon Cook

Docket No. A-2461-22

Decided May 15, 2024

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal from an order denying his motion to suppress evidence.

On April 17, 2022, officers on patrol received a call from dispatch advising that there were two males dressed in all black—black males dressed in all black and two females, and one of them had a firearm. Dispatch provided an address for the officers to further investigate. The officers then went on foot to the location they received from dispatch. When the officers arrived, they observed “two males matching the description and two females walking towards the intersection of Mount Ephraim and Lowell.” On of the officers noted that he believed that the shorter mail was armed and dangerous because he observed him blading his body and trying to conceal himself. The officer then stopped the shorter man, told him to put his hands up, and patted him down for weapons. While performing the frisk, the officer stated that he felt a heavy object and removed a handgun from the man’s right pocket. The shorter man, who was later identified as defendant, was placed under arrest. The taller man was never frisked.

The State did not introduce the 911 call into evidence. The defendant attached a transcript of the 911 call to his brief. In the transcript, the 911 caller never mentioned the race of any person he was calling about. The caller stated that there were two females and about three guys involved. The caller also advised that the taller male had the gun.

In January 2023, the trial court denied defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, finding that the officer had reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop of defendant “based on the identified 911 caller who indicated the location of the incident, and the description of the individuals, two to three males, all in black, with two females, and that one male had a gun, which the other one wanted to take.” Additionally, the trial court also found that the officer had reasonable articulable suspicion to conduct a frisk for weapons because the finding regarding the frisk “flowed directly from the same reasons for the investigatory stop.” Defendant then plead guilty to second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:395(b)(1) and sentenced to five years in prison with forty-two months of parole ineligibility. Defendant reserved his right to appeal the order denying his motion to suppress and his conviction for unlawful possession of a handgun. Defendant subsequently appealed.

On appeal, defendant contended that the officers’ stop and frisk based on a vague tip was illegal because defendant was unlawfully stopped and unlawfully frisked. Ultimately, the Appellate Court determined that the State failed to establish that the officer had reasonable articulable suspicion to stop defendant. The court articulated that failed to introduce the 911 call into evidence at the hearing and never even offered the transcript or a recording of the call into evidence. Moreover, the officer testified that he was told to look for two black men, wearing all black clothing, with two women. The 911 caller, however, never described the race of the men or women. The officer was also not told the age of the suspects. The caller described the suspects as juveniles, but at the time of his arrest, defendant was not a juvenile; he was twenty-five years of age. The court found that under the totality of the circumstances, a description that the suspects were wearing “all black” did not make the description sufficiently particularized and the officer vaguely testified that the men fit the clothing description. As for the State’s argument regarding the officer’s description of defendant’s activity of “blading.” The court stated that, under State v. Nyema, 249 A-2461-22 7 N.J. 509 (2022), individuals may not want to have encounters with the police and that “seemingly furtive movements, without more,” do not support a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity. Accordingly, the Appellate Court vacated defendant’s guilty plea to unlawful possession of a weapon and remanded the case for further proceedings.

At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to motions to suppress evidence obtained unlawfully without a warrant. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case 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 County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.



Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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