State of New Jersey v Mark A McDonald

Submitted by New Jersey Drug Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

On May 30, 2013 three officers from Edison Township were conducting a drug distribution investigation. The officers received a tip from a confidential informant (CI) about the defendant selling drugs from his hotel room. The police conducted surveillance of the scene and confirmed te CI’s description of the defendant, the description of the car, and the date when the defendant would be going to buy more drugs. During the stakeout on May 30 the officers saw defendant walk down the hall meet with an individual in a common hallway and return to his room. The officers believed it was a hand-to-hand drug deal, however, they did not see any money or drugs exchanged. During the next day the police watched the defendant leave the hotel in the Green Yukon that was described by the CI. The defendant drove to the George Washington Bridge with the officers following him. When the defendant drove across the bridge the police went back to the hotel to continue the surveillance. Around 9pm the defendant arrived back at his hotel, police surrounded him on his arrival and detained him.
After detaining defendant an officer ran his license and found that defendant was driving with a suspended license and had a warrant out for him. Defendant was arrested after these findings. A detective (Duffy) asked if there was anything in the vehicle. Defendant responded with saying that only marijuana was in the car. Duffy asked if they could search the car, however, the car was registered under defendant’s wife. She ended up giving consent to search the car as well as the hotel room. In the car the police found marijuana, a handgun, and a loaded magazine containing hollow-point bullets. In the hotel room, the police found another handgun, ammunition, digital scales, plastic bags, heroin, marijuana, crack cocaine, and $5000 in cash. When taken to the police station defendant waived his rights and made a statement taking responsibilities for all the findings. Defendant was indicted in 2013 and 2015 for charges both having to do with the event of May 30, 2013.

Defendant moved to suppress all evidence since he believed he was arrested without probable cause. Defendant as well argued if there was probable cause for arrest, the officer’s inquiry if there was anything in the car was a violation of his Miranda rights. The officers who were involved on May 30 testified during the suppression hearing. The officers stated that the defendant consented to the searches in both the car and hotel room. The judge ended up denying the motion to suppress. The judge stated that the tip from the CI was corroborated by the officers’ observations of defendant’s activities on May 30. The judge found the officers properly conducted an investigative stop of the defendant upon his return to the hotel.

Based on the investigatory stop and the learned knowledge of the warrant the police had a right to search the defendant. His wife gave consent to search the car and hotel room! Based on this information he gun(s) were located. Here the investigatory stop was the initial police contact that started everything! The court found that contact legal!

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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