On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cape May County, Indictment No. 04-08-0543.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 15, 2007
Before Judges Cuff and Simonelli.
A grand jury indicted defendant Jamie Hayes for third degree conspiracy to possess a controlled dangerous substance, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 (count one); third degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1) (count two); third degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine) with the intent to distribute, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3) (count three); and third degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine) with the intent to distribute within 1000 feet of school property, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) (count four).
Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence, which was denied. Defendant subsequently entered an unconditional guilty plea to count two. Judge Alvarez imposed a two-year term of probation conditioned on 244 days time served, urine monitoring, and drug counseling. The judge also imposed the appropriate penalties and dismissed the remaining counts.
On this appeal, defendant contends his questioning by the police and the subsequent seizure of evidence was unlawful. We reject this argument and affirm.
On May 10, 2004, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a dispatcher at the Wildwood Police Department notified Officer Albert Rhodes that a man had entered the lobby area of the police station, pounded on the doors, asked for help, and ran outside. Rhodes walked outside and observed defendant and co-defendant John R. Roy, both of whom were yelling at Rhodes. The men were out of breath, very excited, and appeared as though they had "just been in a tussle." Defendant had an abrasion on his face, and told Rhodes that Roy had just robbed him. Rhodes separated the men and took defendant inside the lobby of the police station to ensure his safety. Rhodes "never indicated that [defendant] had to stay when [they] were in the lobby and [he] never indicated that [defendant] couldn't stay."
Believing defendant was the victim of a robbery, Rhodes asked him what happened. Rhodes also asked defendant for his name because he "wanted to be sure that [he] had a good identity on [defendant] so [the police] would be able to get in touch with [defendant] for testimonial purposes." Defendant gave the name "John Wilson" and a birth date.
Rhodes "always ask[s] for identification when [he's] dealing with - whether it's a victim or a suspect in a crime." If a victim gives Rhodes a name verbally, he usually asks for some form of identification. However, because defendant "appeared nervous when [Rhodes] had questioned him as to the validity of his information," Rhodes felt that defendant may not have provided his real name. Thus, to verify defendant's name, Rhodes asked him if he had anything with his name on it. Defendant said he had nothing. Eventually, defendant produced a pay stub bearing the name, "Jamie Keith Hayes." Because defendant gave Rhodes a different name than that appearing on the pay stub, Rhodes asked the dispatcher to "verify who [defendant] was and to check him for warrants." The warrant check revealed an outstanding warrant from Bridgeton for $2500. Rhodes placed defendant under arrest and searched him. The search revealed a glass pipe used for smoking marijuana in defendant's right front pocket.
After arresting defendant, Rhodes spoke to Roy to get his side of the story. Rhodes also went to the scene of the robbery and spoke to a witness, who said defendant was selling cocaine to Roy. Rhodes then searched the police department's parking lot and found a plastic bag containing crack cocaine. After taking defendant to the hospital for treatment of a head injury, Rhodes took defendant to the Cape May County Jail. A search there revealed crack cocaine in defendant's left front pocket.
Defendant moved to suppress evidence. After hearing testimony from Rhodes, and assessing his credibility, ...