On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Gloucester County, Indictment No. 08-09-0792.
FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 20, 2012 -
Before Judges Fuentes and Ashrafi.
Defendant Nelson Jackson appeals from his conviction by a jury on a single-count indictment charging second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b, and his sentence of six years imprisonment. We affirm.
Defendant makes the following arguments on appeal:
THE MOTION TO SUPRESS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED.
A. THE POLICE LACKED A REASONABLE SUSPICION TO STOP THE WHITE CADILLAC.
B. THE CLAIM OF THE POLICE THAT A STOP OF THE CADILLAC WAS JUSTIFIED BY THE FACT THE TAIL LIGHTS WERE NOT WORKING SHOULD HAVE BEEN REJECTED IN LIGHT OF THE TESTIMONY THAT THE AUTOMOBILE HAD BEEN RENTED ONLY TWO DAYS PRIOR TO THE STOP.
C. THE POLICE COULD NOT USE THE DOCTRINE OF PLAIN VIEW AS A PRETEXT FOR SEARCHING UNDER THE HOOD OF THE CADILLAC WITHOUT A WARRANT.
THE VERDICT WAS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE (NOT RAISED BELOW).
THE COURT'S INSTRUCTION TO THE JURY AS TO HOW TO CONSIDER MR. JACKSON'S PRIOR CONVICTIONS WAS FLAWED, ERRONEOUS, CONFUSING, AND MISLEADING (NOT RAISED BELOW).
THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN ALLOWING THE STATE TO USE THREE PRIOR CONVICTIONS WHICH WERE MORE THAN TEN YEARS OLD.
THE SENTENCE IMPOSED WAS EXCESSIVE.
Only the first of these points warrants substantial analysis.
The charge against defendant arose from an anonymous telephone tip to the police that resulted in police surveillance of defendant, a "high risk felony stop" of the car he was driving with two teenaged passengers, and the discovery of a handgun concealed under the hood of the car. After indictment, defendant moved to suppress the gun as the product of an unconstitutional seizure of him and his car and warrantless search of the car. The trial court held a suppression hearing at which two police officers and defendant testified. The court then issued a written decision and order denying defendant's motion to suppress.
We have reviewed the transcript of the suppression hearing and conclude that substantial credible evidence supports the trial court's findings of fact. See State v. Robinson, 200 N.J. 1, 15 (2009); State v. Elders, 192 N.J. 224, 243 (2007) ("[A]n appellate court reviewing a motion to suppress must uphold the factual findings underlying the trial court's decision so long as those findings are supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record.") (internal quotation marks omitted). We recount here the trial court's statement of the relevant facts.*fn1
From the testimony of Glassboro Police Detective Michael Powell, Glassboro Police Officer Rick Watt and the defendant, the Court finds ...