On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment No. 07-08-1772.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fisher and Reisner.
In this appeal, we consider the legitimacy of police entry into defendant's hotel room based on a tip that defendant was in possession of firearms and on the observation of weapons in the room when defendant opened the door at the officers' request.
We conclude that the police had sufficient cause to request entry into defendant's hotel room; we also conclude that because the officers observed rifles in the room upon the opening of the door, they were authorized to enter the room to conduct a protective sweep and that what was observed during the sweep, together with defendant's subsequent consent, warranted the additional search of the hotel room. We, therefore, affirm.
Defendant was charged with various weapons offenses resulting from evidence obtained by police from his hotel room in Atlantic City. Following the denial of his suppression motion, as well as the subsequent denial of motions to reconsider or for the reopening of the record, defendant pled guilty to second-degree possession of weapons without a permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7, and was sentenced to a five-year prison term.
Defendant appealed, presenting the following arguments for our consideration:
I. THE WARRANTLESS SEARCH OF DEFENDANT'S APARTMENT WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS IT DID NOT FALL WITHIN A) THE PROTECTIVE SEARCH EXCEPTION; B) THE CONSENT SEARCH EXCEPTION; C) THE PLAIN VIEW EXCEPTION; OR D) THE EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES EXCEPTION TO THE WARRANT REQUIREMENT.
A. The warrantless search of defendant's apartment was unconstitutional as it did not fall within the protective search exception to the warrant requirement.
B. The warrantless search of the defendant's apartment was unconstitutional as it did not fall within the consent search exception to the warrant requirement.
C. The warrantless search of the defendant's apartment was unconstitutional as it did not fall within the plain view exception to the warrant requirement.
D. The warrantless search of the defendant's apartment was unconstitutional as it did not fall within the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement.
II. THE DEFENDANT'S APPLICATION TO REOPEN THE MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED ON THE BASIS ...