State of NJ v. Mai

Argued Oct. 13, 2009

Decided May 6, 2010.

Background: Following a conditional guilty plea after denial of motion to suppress, defendant was convicted in the Superior Court, Law Division, Hudson County, of third-degree unlawful possession of a handgun. Defendant appealed. The Superior Court, Appellate Division, 2009 WL 276716, reversed and remanded. State petitioned for certification.

Holdings: The Supreme Court, Rivera-Soto, J., held that:

(1) police officer making traffic stop had authority to open van’s passenger-side sliding door as part of ordering defendant, a passenger, to exit the vehicle;

(2) seizure of loaded gun from floor of van was proper under plain view doctrine;

(3) plain view discovery of gun on floor of van provided sufficient probable cause to arrest defendant; and

(4) loaded ammunition magazine and gun holster were properly seized as fruits of proper search incident to arrest.

Judgment of Appellate Division reversed; judgment of Law Division reinstated.

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