Unlawful Possession of a Handgun | State of New Jersey v. Angel Rivera

Superior Court Of New Jersey, State of New Jersey versus ANGEL L.RIVERA

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

Angel Rivera was charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun without a permit and second-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance after the denial of his suppression motion. Defendant was sentenced to five years in prison, with a three and one half year parole. Defendant appealed the decision based off the wrongful police stop. On March 16, 2016, at about 10 p.m., Vineland Police observed a 2005 Toyota Avalon with its rear brake light not operating. The Officer pulled the vehicle over due to its traffic infraction. When the officer got to the defendant’s window, he recognized him. The officer did not see or smell any illegal substances. Two other police officers arrived for backup who informed the responding officer that two CI’s said, “Rivera was currently selling large quantities of heroin and cocaine.” After receiving this information the officer asked to search the car. Defendant refused because it had nothing to do with the actual traffic stop. After the refusal, a K9 was brought out to sniff out the car and got a hit. Based off the hit the officers searched the car. Once again the officers asked for consent to search and defendant provided him with written consent. The officers found rice in the driver side paneling and rice is used for storing heroin. The car was then ceased and searched the following day. The police found a handgun, ammunition and heroin in the car. The Appellate Court starts their legal analysis with defendant’s challenges to the dog sniff and the warrant affidavit. The Supreme Court drew a clear line between a dog sniff that prolongs a traffic stop and one that does not. If a police officer detains a suspect for a longer time than is reasonably required, the delay requires a separate justification apart from the original infraction. In this case, the state does not deny the stop was prolonged but argues the officer had reasonable suspicion that defendant was engaged in selling drugs. The CI information made the officer have doubts that there was no illegal substances in the car. The information that was provided is the reason for the prolonged stop and eventually K9 unit to sniff the car. In this case, the State failed to meet its burden of proof that the warrantless seizure was valid. The defendant’s consent to search his car, which he only gave after the unlawful detention and the dog sniff, was “the product of the exploitation of unlawful detention.” The search warrant suffers because it relied heavily on the dog sniff and partial search of the car. The Appellate Court found there had to be suppression of the evidence. The court also remanded to the trial court to enter an order granting suppression motion and for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Have you ever been pulled over for a traffic infraction? Has the stop ever been prolonged for something other than just the original police stop? Here at Hark & Hark we have been dealing with illegal searches of cars for the past twenty five years. If you believe your car has been searched illegally or the police wrongfully received a search warrant please contact us at 866) 427-5529. Mr. Hark will be happy to enter into a payment plan that is affordable and convenient for each one of his clients.

Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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