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State v. Valentine

July 10, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JAMIEL LEMAR VALENTINE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment Nos. 04-05-450 and 04-05-451.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 28, 2008

Before Judges A.A. Rodríguez and Kestin.

Defendant, Jamiel Lemar Valentine, was charged in Indictment No. 04-05-450 (450), with the commission of seven crimes. Two of the crimes charged were of the second degree:

Count Three charged a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public park; and Count Five charged a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1, possession of a firearm in the course of committing certain CDS crimes. The remaining five crimes charged in Indictment No. 450 were of the third degree: Count One charged a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1), unlawful possession of CDS; Count Two charged a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and b(3), possession of CDS with intent to distribute; Count Four charged a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2a, resisting arrest; Count Six charged a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3f, possession of a prohibited device (hollow-nose bullets); and Count Seven charged a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b, unlawful possession of a handgun. Indictment No. 04-05-451 (451) charged defendant with an additional crime of the second degree, a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7b, possession of a weapon by certain persons prohibited to possess same.

Following the denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence, he and the State entered into a plea agreement. Pursuant to that agreement, defendant pled guilty--conditionally in respect of his right to appeal the ruling on the motion to suppress--to the third-degree crime charged in Count Two of Indictment No. 450, and to the second-degree crime charged in Indictment No. 451; and the State agreed to recommend a sentence not to exceed five years of imprisonment with a five-year period of parole ineligibility, and to move to dismiss the remaining counts of Indictment No. 450. The terms of the plea agreement were effected with the plea; dismissal by the court, on the State's motion, of the remaining charges; and the imposition of a prison sentence of five years with sixty months of parole ineligibility on the second-degree conviction, along with a concurrent four-year term on the third-degree conviction.

Defendant now appeals from the orders denying his motion to suppress. He raises, through counsel, the following arguments:

POINT I

THE SEARCH OF THE BASEMENT LOCATED AT 424 JACKSON AVENUE, AS WELL AS THE SEIZURE OF DEFENDANT, EXCEEDED THE SCOPE OF AUTHORITY GRANTED BY THE WARRANT. ACCORDINGLY, THE FRUITS OF THE SEARCH MUST BE SUPPRESSED.

POINT II

SINCE THE SEARCH WARRANT DID NOT AUTHORIZE THE SEIZURE OF DEFENDANT, THE POLICE OFFICERS HAD NO AUTHORITY TO SEIZE DEFENDANT AS HE WAS LEAVING 424 JACKSON AVENUE IN THE ABSENCE OF PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE HE HAD OR WAS ABOUT TO COMMIT A CRIME. FURTHERMORE, DEFENDANT'S FAILURE TO HEED THE OFFICER'S ORDER TO STOP DID NOT CONSTITUTE THE CRIME OF OBSTRUCTION IN THE ABSENCE OF AN OBJECTIVE GOOD-FAITH BELIEF ON THE PART OF THE POLICE THAT DEFENDANT HAD OR WAS ABOUT TO COMMIT A CRIME. THE TRIAL COURT THUS ERRED IN FAILING TO GRANT DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS ALL EVIDENCE SEIZED AS FRUIT OF THE DEFENDANT'S ILLEGAL SEIZURE.

In an additional pro-se brief, defendant raises the ...


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