This matter comes before the court on defendant's motion to suppress evidence alleged to have been obtained as the result of an unlawful search and seizure.
The facts are not substantially in dispute as to the events leading up to defendant's arrest and his subsequent indictment on a charge of receiving stolen property in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:139-1. On the morning of January 4, 1970 a call was received at Clifton police headquarters from a woman who identified herself as Mrs. Karen Crevina. She reported that her husband, the defendant, had been stealing merchandise from various stores over a period of several months. An appointment was made for her to come to the police station that afternoon. She arrived at the appointed hour with her mother. She was, in fact, defendant's wife.
After questioning she willingly signed a statement that her husband had been stealing merchandise from various stores since April 1969, and that on one occasion she had assisted him to do so. She further stated that the stolen merchandise was then in an apartment which she and her husband
shared in Clifton, and that she wished to "turn over" the stolen property to the police. After signing that statement she also signed a paper stating that she voluntarily came to the Clifton police headquarters "with information concerning the stolen clothing which is now in my apartment," and made "a request that Detectives William Vander Brink and William De Vos remove the stolen clothing from my apartment."
Thereupon the above-named detective, without obtaining a search warrant, accompanied Mrs. Crevina and her mother to the apartment. Mrs. Crevina unlocked the door and they all went in together. She then led them to the bedroom where she took numerous items from the bedroom closet and placed them on the bed to display them to the police. Many of the items still retained their price tags and consisted chiefly of men's and women's wearing apparel.
Although a police witness testified that when defendant's wife came to police headquarters on January 4, 1970 she stated that she did so because her conscience had been bothering her to the extent that she could not sleep, her husband testified at the hearing on the motion to suppress that they had a heated argument at 2 A.M. on January 4, 1970 about an alleged serious marital offense on his part. At the request of defense counsel, and with the consent of both defendant and his wife, she was also allowed to testify at the hearing. She confirmed defendant's testimony and said that her purpose in going to the police was really "to get even."
Neither party has cited a New Jersey case directly on point, but defendant has cited several cases which appear to turn on the question of the motivation of the spouse who voluntarily consents to the search of an apartment occupied jointly by husband and wife. Thus, he emphasizes People v. Carter , 48 Cal. 2d 737, 746, 312 P. 2d 665, 670 (Sup. Ct. 1957), in which the court stated:
When the usual amicable relations exist between husband and wife and property seized is of a kind over which the wife normally exercises as much control as the husband, it is reasonable to conclude
that she is in a position to consent to search and seizure of property in their home.
Defendant also stressed In re Lessard , 62 Cal. 2d 497, 42 Cal. Rptr. 583, 587, 399 P. 2d 39, 43 (Sup. Ct. ...