A complaint was filed charging J.G. with possession of a controlled dangerous substance under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4). A motion for suppression of evidence was filed on behalf of J.G. alleging that the search of the juvenile was illegal.
On January 14, 1988, at approximately 9:15 A.M. a Winslow Township police officer was summoned to the juvenile's home by his mother. The mother reported that her son had run away and that her son had a drug and alcohol problem. In addition, the juvenile was already under a "one-year rule"*fn1 imposed by the court. The officer immediately contacted the juvenile-family crisis intervention unit*fn2 and was advised that if the juvenile
was a runaway, he should be taken into custody as soon as he is located and brought before the court for a hearing.*fn3
At approximately 11:50 a.m. that morning the same officer observed J.G. on the side of a highway. The officer approached the juvenile, introduced himself and had the juvenile identify himself. Upon identification, the officer told J.G. that his mother had filed a complaint charging him with being a runaway and told J.G. he was going to be taken to the police station and to the Family Court. Before placing J.G. in the police car for transportation to the station, the officer "patted down" the Juvenile. The officer detected that J.G. had in his pant's pocket a clear plastic bag containing a green vegetation, later analyzed to be marijuana. After transportation to the police station, a complaint was signed charging J.G. with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, to wit Marijuana, under 50 grams, a disorderly persons offense. This would constitute an offense of juvenile delinquency under N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-23 in that if the offense were committed by an adult the act would constitute a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4).
The court finds there is no merit to the motion to suppress evidence filed in this matter. The search was lawful inasmuch as it was incident to the custodial detention of the juvenile. The police officer also had probable cause to search the juvenile as the facts substantiated an objective reason to believe the juvenile was carrying a controlled dangerous substance.
It is well established that the fourth amendment does not guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are unreasonable. See United States v. Sharpe, 470 U.S. 675, 682, 105 S. Ct. 1568, 1573, 84 L. Ed. 2d 605 (1985); State v. Bruzzese, 94 N.J. 210, 217 (1983). There is nothing unreasonable
about the search of J.G. The juvenile was apprehended pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-31(b)(1) & (2).
A juvenile involved in a juvenile-family crisis as defined in N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-22(g) is distinguished from a delinquent in that a juvenile involved in a juvenile-family crisis is considered "self-destructive" and the officer acts "in loco parentis" to protect the juvenile. The juvenile's conduct constitutes a status offense. Nevertheless, an officer still has authority to detain a juvenile whether for juvenile delinquency or as a status offender under the statute.
N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-31. Taking into custody
a. A juvenile may be taken into ...