Warrantless Search and Seizure of Weapons Was Impermissible, Unsupported by Probable Cause, and Without Exigent Circumstances
Docket No. A-1026-20
Decided January 26, 2023
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided appellant’s appeal from a Temporary Extreme Risk Protective Order (“TERPO”) and Final Extreme Risk Protective Order (“FERPO”) entered against him, as well as the denial of his motion for reconsideration and stay.
In March 2005, J.M., a now retired NYPD Sergeant on an Accident Disability Retirement pension, filed a complaint against the NYPD for gender discrimination by his then supervisor. J.M. alleged that he experienced distress and anxiety throughout the course of his employment, and was subsequently admitted to a hospital with an anxiety attack and chest pains. J.M. has been prescribed many medications for his conditions and receives regular treatment by a psychiatrist and a psychologist for severe emotional distress caused by perceived harassment and retaliation.
J.M. sued his sister, executrix of their father’s estate, in 2018, as well as multiple state judges. J.M. attempted to serve two judges by meeting with them in person and tried to hand deliver the summons and complaint addressed to the Chief Justice. J.M.’s sister’s attorney, alarmed by appellant’s behavior, alerted the NYPD and other New Jersey agencies of appellant’s behavior and fact that appellant was believed to have a firearm. Appellant sued probate judge in federal court alleging criminal harassment and retaliation. Appellant refused to voluntarily surrender his weapons. The New Jersey State Police then filed charges against J.M. for falsifying information on a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (“FPIC”) application. The State Police also filed a TERPO against J.M. alleging that he was receiving mental health treatment and failed to disclose that in connection with a New Jersey FPIC application, and that he had filed lawsuits against judges in multiple counties in New Jersey, as well as the Chief Justice who he demanded to see when he travelled to Trenton. Ultimately, the trial court determined that the State established good cause to believe that J.M. posed an immediate and present danger of bodily injury to himself or others by possessing, purchasing, owing or receiving firearms and entered a TERPO.
In July 2020, the trial court conducted a hearing to determine whether a FERPO should be entered against J.M. Having found factors one, eight, thirteen, and fifteen, the trial court found by a preponderance of the evidence that J.M. posed a significant danger of bodily injury to himself and others by owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm.” Therefore, the court granted the FERPO. J.M. moved for reconsideration and stay of order. In November 2020, the court entered an order and written decision denying J.M.’s motion for reconsideration and stay. J.M. appealed.
On appeal, J.M. contended that that he was never served with the TERPO, that the warrant was invalid, and thus the warrantless search and seizure of his weapons was impermissible, unsupported by probable cause, and without exigent circumstances permitting the police to enter his home. The Appellate Court determined that since appellant did not raise these arguments with the trial court, they would not consider them here on appellate review. Additionally, the Appellate Court ruled that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in considering in considering the unlawful possession of firearms not registered to appellant and in considering the judges’ alarm under the circumstances. As a result, the trial court’s decision was affirmed.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to Final Extreme Risk Protective Order hearings. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of the appellant in this case, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.