What Constitutes Reasonable Suspicion for A Motor Vehicle Stop
Appellate Docket No.: A-1998-18T4
Decided June 2, 2020
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In an unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey heard argument on the issue of an improper jury charge.
In State v. Vargas, the Defendant Ramon L. Vargas was indicted for second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count one), and second-degree certain persons not to be in possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(b) (count two), following a consent search of his car by a Fort Lee police detective who performed a motor vehicle stop. Defendant pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon after the motion judge entered an order denying his motion to suppress evidence.
A reasonable suspicion that a crime or motor vehicle violation is needed to justify a motor vehicle stop. In his motion to suppress, Defendant argued that because he was pulled over for having tinted windows, the police officer did have a reasonable suspicion for a motor vehicle stop, and therefore the search of the car that led to finding of the gun was unlawful. However, the Appellate Division found that the trial judge indicated the police had stopped the defendant for swerving in and out of lanes, and that is what led to the motor vehicle stop. Therefore, the stop was valid, and the Appellate Division did not decide on the issue as to whether tinted windows alone justify reasonable suspicion and a lawful motor vehicle stop.
Motor vehicle stops occur very frequently. Often times these motor vehicle stops lead to searches of the vehicle, and finding of criminal evidence. It is important to hire an attorney experienced in traffic stops, to make sure your rights are protected and that the traffic stop was lawful. If not, the charges could be thrown out.
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.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties.