On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, Indictment No. 09-04-0298.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 25, 2011 -
Before Judges Simonelli and Hayden.
Following the denial of his motion to suppress, defendant Jordan T. Weber entered an open guilty plea to third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) (heroin), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1) (count one), and third-degree possession of CDS (oxycodone), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1) (count two). The trial judge sentenced defendant to two years probation and 354 days incarceration in the Somerset County Correctional Center, which was suspended pending successful completion of probation.
On appeal, defendant raises the following contentions for our consideration.
POINT I - THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT DENIED THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS BECAUSE THE POLICE CONDUCTED AN INVESTIGATORY STOP WITHOUT SPECIFIC AND ARTICULABLE FACTS TO GIVE RISE TO A REASONABLE SUSPICION OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY AND THE EVIDENCE OBTAINED AS A RESULT WAS FRUIT OF THE ILLEGAL STOP.
1. The police subjected the Defendant to an investigatory stop.
2. The police did not have specific and articulable facts that gave rise to a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
3. The Defendant's confession and the illegal drugs were obtained as the result of the illegal stop.
POINT II - THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY FAILING TO EXCLUDE THE DEFENDANT'S CONFESSION AND THE ILLEGAL DRUGS BECAUSE BOTH WERE ELICITED IN RESPONSE TO A CUSTODIAL INTERROGATION PRIOR TO WHICH THE POLICE FAILED TO READ THE DEFENDANT HIS MIRANDA RIGHTS.
Having considered defendant's arguments in light of the applicable legal principles, we affirm.
The record reveals the following facts. In May 2008, the Branchburg Police Department received at least five complaints from residents living in a condominium complex that drug trafficking was occurring there in the unit where a person known as Joseph Mino lived with his mother. The complaints included heavy foot traffic at all hours by young people entering and leaving Mino's residence and staying only a short time, and a strong smell of burning marijuana emanating from Mino's unit. As a result, the police began surveillance and confirmed the accuracy of the citizens' complaints. As the police determined that the pattern of young people frequently visiting Mino's unit for a very brief period was consistent with illegal drug activity, they referred the matter to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Narcotics Task Force Unit.
In February 2009, after a reliable confidential informant told the local police that Mino was selling drugs from his residence, a detective in the Somerset County Narcotics Unit arranged for another confidential reliable informant to make a controlled buy of heroin. After the buy, the informant reported seeing a firearm and marijuana plants growing in Mino's residence. Based upon ...