State v. Hreha and Motions to Suppress
Appellate Docket No.: A-2744-19T3
Decided July 21, 2020
Submitted by New Jersey Drug Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division overturned a trial court’s suppression of evidence recovered from an overdose victim’s cellphone which included text message from defendant implicating him in a drug deal that led to the victim’s death.
In State v. Hreha, defendant was charged with third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) (heroin), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1) (count one); third-degree possession of a CDS with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and 2C:35-5(b)(1) (count two); third-degree distribution of a CDS, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and 2C:35-5(b)(3) (count three); third-degree possession of a CDS (Fentanyl), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1) (count four); third-degree possession of a CDS with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and 2C:35-5(b)(5) (count five); third-degree distribution of a CDS, N.J.S.A. 2C:35- 5(a)(1) and 2C:35-5(b)(5) (count six); first-degree strict liability drug-induced death of Richard Froman, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9 (count seven); third-degree possession of a CDS (Xanax), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1) (count eight); third-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and 2C:35-5(b)(13) (count nine); and third-degree distribution of a CDS, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and 2C:35-5(b)(13) (count ten).
Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained in the search of the decedent’s room, the items seized during the search, and the text messages recovered from the decedent’s cell phone. Defendant also sought to suppress certain incriminating statements and other CDS defendant allegedly possessed and distributed.
The search of the room occurred after the victim’s death inside the room due to an overdose. The officers recovered a phone which included conversations with the victim and defendant in the sale of heroin that led to the victim’s death. The Court ruled that because the phone was found in a closed drawer and was not in clear view, the police did not have a right to search the area, nor search the text messages on the cell phone.
The State appealed. The Appellate Division overturned, ruling that because it was the victim’s phone and because defendant was not present nor did he live at the home, defendant had no standing to challenge the search that occurred. Further, because the search was not directed at defendant, defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy of the information contained on the phone.
Motions to suppress are a vital tool for defense attorneys. Often times the entire defense of a criminal defendant hinges on the outcome of a motion to suppress. Make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is well versed in what evidence the police can gather and the State can use to convict a defendant. Often times there are a variety of ways that evidence can be suppressed and not used in a trial.
If you have been charged with any first degree crime, second degree crime, third degree crime, fourth degree crime, disorderly persons offense, municipal ordinance violation, or traffic ticket / DUI/DWI, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Failing to hire a defense attorney and putting your faith in a public defender could give you the same result as the defendant in this case!
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court and municipal court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to ensure prosecutors, police, and even judges follow the law.
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