NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 5, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, Indictment No. 10-03-0151.
Wronko & Loewen, attorneys for appellant (James R. Wronko, of counsel and on the brief).
Geoffrey D. Soriano, Somerset County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Michael McLaughlin, Assistant Prosecutor, on the brief).
Before Judges Messano, Lihotz, and Ostrer.
A grand jury charged defendant Laura Tepper with third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (marijuana) with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and -5b(11). Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress the drug evidence, alleging the warrantless search of her home was unconstitutional. Following an evidentiary hearing, the judge denied defendant's motion, concluding police entry into her home was valid under the community caretaking doctrine. Defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a one-year probationary sentence. On appeal, defendant argues:
THE WARRANTLESS ENTRY INTO THE DEFENDANT'S REAR LAWN AND ONTO HER DECK WAS UNLAWFUL.
THE WARRANTLESS ENTRY INTO THE DEFENDANT'S HOME WAS UNLAWFUL.
Following our review, we reverse the order denying suppression of the narcotics evidence, and remand for the court to examine the matter in light of the considerations presented by the Court in State v. Vargas, 213 N.J. 301 (2013).
These facts are taken from the suppression hearing record. Two witnesses testified. The State called the investigating police officer, Pedro Rodrigues, and ...