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State v. Manghan

Decided: October 10, 1973.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROBERT MANGHAN, DEFENDANT



Cariddi, J.c.c., Temporarily Assigned.

Cariddi

This matter comes before the court, pursuant to R. 3:5-7, on defendant's timely 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 charges of possession of heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 24:21-20, subd. a(1) and taking prohibited articles (heroin) into an institution of detention in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:104-12.

On the evening of August 14, 1973, at 7 P.M., defendant walked through a gate into the visitors section of the Bergen County Jail to visit a woman alleged to be his wife. This is the only gate visitors are allowed to enter, and above this gate is a sign which states, "Stop. You are subject to be searched while on these premises." Upon entering the premises defendant signed the visitors book, as he has done at least 12 times in the past.

An officer of the Bergen County Sheriff's Department had received confidential information from a matron of the same Department to the effect that defendant had been bringing drugs at visiting hours to his wife, who was incarcerated.

The captain apprehended defendant and ordered two other officers to escort him into another room and search his person. Defendant did not physically resist, but when informed that he was going to be searched he stated that he no longer wished to visit and would come back another day. He was not allowed to leave, and a search of his person revealed an aluminum foil packet in his right sock which contained a white powdered substance, later field-tested and found to be heroin.

It is also undisputed that this search was conducted without a search warrant. In a warrantless search the burden of proof is on the State. Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 89 S. Ct. 2034, 23 L. Ed. 2d 685 (1969); State v. Allen, 113 N.J. Super. 245 (App. Div. 1970).

The Fourth Amendment and Art. I, par. 7, N.J. Const. (1947), prohibit any unreasonable searches and seizures. Reasonableness is the ultimate standard and it is to be determined by the specific facts and circumstances in each case. "In justifying a particular intrusion a police officer must be able to point out specific facts, which taken together with rational inferences from these facts, reasonably

warrant that intrusion." Stephenson v. United States, 296 A.2d 606 (D.C. Ct. App. 1972). Reasonableness requires the courts to weigh the necessity of the search against the intrusion into the privacy of an individual.

One of the well-established exceptions to the general requirement of a search warrant is when the attendant circumstances are exigent or emergent. Maryland Penitentiary v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 87 S. Ct. 1642, 18 L. Ed. 2d 782 (1967); Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 68 S. Ct. 367, 92 ...


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