On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 08-07-1607.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Cuff and Fuentes.
After obtaining defendant Julio Ruiz's written consent to search his home, Long Branch police officers found a bag of cocaine concealed on top of the refrigerator located in the kitchen of defendant's residence. A Monmouth County grand jury thereafter returned an indictment against defendant charging him with second degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(2) and N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2; third degree possession of cocaine, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1); third degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(3); and third degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of school property, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.
After the trial court denied his motion to suppress, defendant pleaded guilty to second degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine and third degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of school property. The court sentenced him to a term of seven years imprisonment with a forty-two month period of parole ineligibility and imposed the mandatory fines and penalties.
Defendant now appeals, raising the following argument:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS THE EVIDENCE AS CONSENT WAS NOT GIVEN KNOWINGLY OR VOLUNTARILY.
We reject this argument and affirm. We derive the following facts from the record developed at the evidentiary hearing conducted by the court in deciding defendant's motion to suppress.
On November 30, 2007, Sergeant Raymond Chaparro, Jr., and four or five other officers from the Long Branch Police Department were dispatched to defendant's home to execute a warrant for his arrest. Chaparro and his fellow officers arrived at defendant's house at approximately 6:20 in the morning. Chaparro was the first officer to knock on the front door of the residence, because he knew defendant and had a good working relationship with him. The majority of the other officers were deployed to the back of the house.
Defendant responded to Chaparro's knock and opened the door wearing only boxer shorts. He was polite and cooperative, and he permitted Chaparro and his fellow officers to enter the home without incident. Defendant informed the detectives, and the officers subsequently confirmed, that his children were asleep on the second floor of the house. Chaparro testified that he told defendant to sit on the couch without handcuffing him. He also retrieved defendant's pants from the upper floor bedroom and, after checking them for contraband,*fn1 allowed defendant to put them on.
By this time, approximately ten minutes had transpired from the time the officers first entered defendant's home.
Chaparro sat next to defendant on the couch and read him his rights under Miranda.*fn2 Defendant told Chaparro that he understood his rights and agreed to waive those rights and answer questions. Defendant confirmed the waiver in writing by initialing the responses ...