Warrants and Specificity of Locations : Part 1

by | Jan 29, 2018 | Blog, Drug Crime, New Jersey

On December 18, 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided the case of State v. Akeem Boone. Justice Fernandez-Vina wrote for a unanimous Court. The principle issue was whether a warrant application that did not include evidence as to why a specific apartment unit should be searched fell short of establishing probable cause for the search of that apartment.


Over the course of two months during the summer of 2012, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force set up surveillance of defendant Akeem Boone for suspected distribution of crack cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. On August 27, 2012, police observed defendant drive to a parking lot in River Edge and retrieve a duffel bag from an unoccupied vehicle. He later drove to an apartment building, 211 Johnson Avenue, where police suspected he lived. Boone did not bring the bag into the thirty-unit building. An hour later, defendant went to retrieve the bag but, noticing the vehicle from which police were monitoring him, returned the bag to the car and drove away. Several times that day, police saw him drive to and from the Johnson Avenue apartment complex. That same evening, police followed Boone from Johnson Avenue to Main Street in Hackensack, where they observed what appeared to be a hand-to-hand drug transaction. Defendant then drove back to the apartment complex.


The record does not mention how the police knew that Boone “noticed the police vehicle from which police were monitoring him.” There is also no explanation for why the police did not stop him at the point that they watched him drive away with the duffel bag containing suspected contraband.


On August 29, 2012, Detective Dennis Conway of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office applied for a warrant to search Boone, his car, and Unit 4A of 211 Johnson Avenue—identified as defendant’s apartment—among other things. The detective did not note that the building was a thirty-unit apartment building, nor did he provide any details about Unit 4A or how police knew Boone was a tenant in that unit. Although the warrant application frequently mentions 211 Johnson Avenue, it never discusses the inside of the apartment building, and it fails to mention Unit 4A other than in passing. However, the detective concluded that “my investigation reveals that Boone is distributing Controlled Dangerous Substances, 211 Johnson Avenue, Apartment 4A, Hackensack.”