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State v. Means

April 22, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
AL-AMIN MEANS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment Nos. 06-06-1761 and 06-08-2541.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 9, 2009

Before Judges Lisa and Alvarez.

Defendant was charged with multiple offenses under two Essex County indictments, No. 06-06-1761 and No. 06-08-2541. After his suppression motion pertaining to No. 06-06-1761 was denied, defendant pled guilty to one count in each of the indictments, namely count seven of No. 06-06-1761, third-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of school property on March 24, 2006, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7, and count six of No. 06-08-2541, third-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute on January 17, 2006, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and -5b(3). As recommended in the plea agreement, defendant was sentenced under Indictment No. 06-06-1761 to four years imprisonment with a two-year parole disqualifier, and under No. 06-08-2541 to a concurrent four-year prison term.

The sole issue defendant raises on appeal is that the trial court erred in denying his suppression motion under No. 06-06-1761. More specifically, defendant argues:

THE POLICE VIOLATED THE DEFENDANT'S FEDERAL AND STATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE THAT THE WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND SEIZURE COMPLIED WITH THE FOURTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. I, PAR. 7 AND ART. I, PAR. 1 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION.

A. THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE THAT THE SEIZURE OF THE VEHICLE WAS LAWFUL.

B. THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE THAT THE SEARCH OF THE MOTOR VEHICLE DATABASE AS PART OF A NARCOTICS INVESTIGATION WAS REASONABLE, NOT CAPRICIOUS AND DISCRIMINATORY.

C. THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE THAT THE SEIZURE OF THE DEFENDANT, INCLUDING ORDERING HIM OUT OF THE MOTOR VEHICLE, WAS LAWFUL.

D. THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE THAT THE ARREST AND SUBSEQUENT SEARCH OF THE DEFENDANT WERE LAWFUL.

E. THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE THAT THE STRIP SEARCH OF THE DEFENDANT WAS LAWFUL.

We reject these arguments and affirm.

On the evening of March 24, 2006, eight officers were conducting a narcotics surveillance in a particular area in East Orange. They were looking for an individual expected to receive drugs. All of the officers were in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles, but they wore police badges around their necks and police jackets or vests. At about 6:30 p.m., as it was getting dark, Officer Daniel Francis observed a black Honda Accord with tinted windows circle the block several times. He called dispatch and requested a check on the license ...


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