Warrants and Specificity of Locations: Part 3

by | Feb 2, 2018 | Blog, Criminal Law, Drug Crime, New Jersey

The New Jersey Supreme Court held that because the warrant affidavit failed to provide specific information as to why defendant’s apartment and not other units should be searched, the warrant application was deficient.

The search-and-seizure provision in Article I, Paragraph 7 of New Jersey’s Constitution affords a higher level of protection for citizens than the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Searches without a warrant are presumed unreasonable unless they fall within an exception to the warrant requirement.

The current Supreme Court has been less inclined to extend greater search and seizure protections that previous Courts. A recent example is that the Court unanimously approved suspicionless canine sniffs, even though two Justices on the United States Supreme Court disapproved of the practice.

The application for a warrant must satisfy the issuing authority that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, or is being committed, at a specific location or that evidence of a crime is at the place sought to be searched. The requirement for a search warrant is not a mere formality, and the showing necessary to secure one should be based not merely on belief or suspicion, but on underlying facts or circumstances which would warrant a prudent man in believing that the law was being violated.

Reviewing courts accord substantial deference to the discretionary determination resulting in the issuance of the search warrant. Courts consider the totality of the circumstances and should sustain the validity of a search only if the finding of probable cause relies on adequate facts. The probable cause determination must be based on the information contained within the four corners of the supporting affidavit, as supplemented by sworn testimony before the issuing judge that is recorded contemporaneously. The analysis into sufficient probable cause to issue a warrant for an arrest or for a search involves two separate inquiries.