Stop and Frisk

State v. Privott, 203 N.J. 16 (2010)

In this case, the Supreme Court of New Jersey made three essential holdings. The Court ruled that: 1) the police officer had specific and particularized reasons for conducting an investigatory stop of the defendant, 2) the totality of the circumstances justified the officer’s decision to frisk the defendant, and 3) the officer’s conduct in lifting up the defendant’s shirt to check for weapons in the waistband of defendant’s pants exceeded the scope of the type of intrusion a Terry stop allows for.

The 5-2 decision was authored by Justice Wallace and it was joined by Chief Justice Rabner, Justice Long, Justice LaVecchia, and Justice Hoens. However, Justice Albin and Justice Rivera-Soto dissented.

The most relevant language seems to be:

“… the police officer lifted defendant’s tee-shirt to expose defendant’s stomach, and in doing so, observed a plastic bag with suspected drugs in the waistband of defendant’s pants. That maneuver exceeded the scope of the pat-down search needed to protect the officer against defendant having a weapon and was akin to a generalized cursory search of defendant that is not condoned.” Id. at 31 (emphasis added).

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