State of New Jersey v. Mai – Case Summary

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State v. Mai – Case Summary

An officer is allowed to open the door of a vehicle as part of ordering an occupant of the vehicle to exit when facts in the totality of the circumstances create a heightened sense of danger in the officer. This holding is an extension of the holding in State v. Smith, 134 N.J. 599 (1994), which set the standard for when an officer could order an occupant out of the car. The officer only needs to be able to point to some facts in the totality of the circumstances that would create in an officer a heightened sense of danger that would warrant him ordering the passenger out of the car to secure the scene. The Court found no meaningful difference in authorizing an officer to order an occupant out of the vehicle based on a heightened sense of danger and the authority to open the door as part of issuing that lawful order.

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