Scope of Protective Sweeps (Part 5)

by | May 13, 2022 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The New Jersey Supreme Court continued in relevant part: The next day, a search warrant was issued, and multiple weapons were seized from Terres’s trailer. The trial court denied Terres’s motion to suppress the evidence, and the Appellate Division affirmed. After initially denying certification, 244 N.J. 309 (2020), the Court granted both Terres’s motion for reconsideration and his petition, 245 N.J. 471 (2021).

When an arrest occurs outside a home, the police may not enter the dwelling or conduct a protective sweep in the absence of a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a person or persons are present inside and pose an imminent threat to the officers’ safety. This sensible balancing of the fundamental right to privacy in one’s home and the compelling interest in officer safety will depend on an objective assessment of the particular circumstances in each case, such as the manner of the arrest, the distance of the arrest from the home, the reasonableness of the officers’ suspicion that persons were in the dwelling and likely to launch an imminent attack, and any other relevant factors. A self-created exigency by the police cannot justify entry into the home or a protective sweep. Here, a protective sweep was not warranted in the Radel case but was constitutionally justified in the Terres case.

The fundamental privacy interests of the home are at the very core of the protections afforded by our Federal and State Constitutions, and the warrantless search of a home is permissible only if the search falls within one of the few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions to the warrant requirement. One such exception is the protective sweep doctrine. In Maryland v. Buie, the United States Supreme Court recognized that “an in-home arrest puts the officer at the disadvantage of being on his adversary’s ‘turf’” and in possible jeopardy of “an ambush in a confined setting of unknown configuration.” 494 U.S. 325, 333 (1990).

One crucial claim was the difference between the two consolidated cases. The claim was that a neighbor told the police that they needed to be careful of a second occupant.