New Jersey Criminal Lawyer Appellate Opinions – State v. Pompa

State v. Pompa, 414 N.J. Super. 219 (App. Div. 2010)

The State had the burden of demonstrating exigent circumstances and its failure in this regard is revealed by the Trooper’s testimony. During cross-examination at the suppression hearing, Trooper Budrewicz admitted defendant’s vehicle was incapable of being moved because he was in possession of defendant’s keys; common sense strongly suggested it was not likely another person with another set of keys was in the vicinity. In addition, the Trooper admitted he could have had the vehicle towed to a safe location while he applied for a warrant prior to conducting a search beyond the scope of the administrative inspection:

Q: But you could have towed [the truck] to Perryville station, secured it there, and gotten a warrant, or you could have left it there, or called a detective, or called the [prosecutor’s] office and said I’ve got probable cause to search this thing, get me a warrant….

A: I could have done that but I had plain smell.

And, when asked why he decided to search instead of first obtaining a warrant, the officer insisted: “I don’t need a warrant *236 with probable cause.” Again, Pena-Flores requires more than probable cause; exigent circumstances are also required.

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