A complaint was filed in this court pursuant to R. 5:8-1 alleging that a 16-year-old juvenile possessed and sold amphetamine tablets in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:4-14. The juvenile, sometimes otherwise herein referred to as G.C., was accused of having illegally approximately 90 pills in a plastic container which she offered for sale to eighth grade students at a price of three pills for one dollar.
On the motion of the prosecutor and with the consent of the complainant, the complaint was amended to eliminate the charge of sale of a dangerous drug so that only the allegation of possession remained.
The complaint was listed on the formal calendar as provided by R. 5:9-1(c) and the juvenile was represented by retained counsel. The county prosecutor was requested to appear and prosecute the complaint in accordance with R. 5:3-3(c).
The juvenile denied the complaint as amended and moved to suppress certain evidence on the ground that it was the product of an unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. R. 5:8-9 permits an aggrieved juvenile to make a motion to suppress evidence in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. See State in the Interest of L.B. , 99 N.J. Super. 589 (J. & D.R. Ct. 1968), and State v Lowry , 95 N.J. Super. 307 (Law Div. 1967).
The pertinent facts are as follows: On February 7, 1972 the principal of the public high school that G.C. attended received a telephone call from an unidentified person. The caller reported that G.C. had been selling pills that morning in the girls room. The following morning, a student approached one of the teachers at the school and informed her
that the juvenile had a partially filled plastic container of white pills and was trying to sell them to other students. The teacher reported this to the principal who then had G.C. brought into his office. Upon her arrival she was informed of the charges made against her, and the principal stated that it was his duty to investigate the reports in order to protect the student body and her reputation. G.C. denied the allegations and agreed to cooperate in a search of her person.
A female teacher was then summoned to the office in order to carry out the search. The juvenile emptied her pockets and, upon the principal's request, she permitted the female teacher to feel her pockets to make certain that they were empty. G.C. was next asked to empty her purse. She agreed and dumped the contents of the purse onto the principal's desk. He asked if she would consent to his looking into the purse. Without further comment, she unzipped a compartment in her purse and tossed a partially filled container of white pills onto the desk. The juvenile was then asked if she would reveal the names of any students that she had sold pills to, or at least the names of those students who might take an overdose. G.C. responded with the name of one student.
The principal then sent for a police officer to ascertain the nature of the pills discovered. An officer arrived and after conducting a field examination stated that the pills appeared to be amphetamines. A subsequent laboratory analysis confirmed this.
The juvenile's parents were summoned to the school. When they arrived the principal informed them of G.C.'s conduct and that she would be suspended for ten school days.
The admissibility of evidence secured by a school administrator from a student seems to be a question of first impression in our State. At issue are the conflicting interests of a student's right to privacy and a school official's ...