NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 10, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 11-06-1176.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Kevin G. Byrnes, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Carolyn A. Murray, Acting Essex County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Stephen A. Pogany, Special Deputy Attorney General/ Acting Assistant Prosecutor, on the brief).
Before Judges Fisher, Espinosa and Koblitz.
In this appeal, we consider the validity of a warrant to search the entirety of a three-story structure in Newark despite the fact – learned upon execution of the warrant – that the structure contained more than one apartment. Because the judge found, after conducting an evidentiary hearing, that the officer who requested the warrant did not know or have reason to believe the structure housed multiple units, we find the search warrant was valid and conclude the judge properly denied the motion to suppress evidence seized from defendant's apartment.
We need only briefly outline the case's procedural history. After his motion to suppress evidence was denied, defendant entered a guilty plea, pursuant to a plea agreement, to: second-degree possession of a firearm while in the course of committing a drug offense, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1; third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (heroin), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1); and two counts of fourth-degree possession of a firearm without a permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b). The trial judge imposed on the second-degree conviction an eight-year prison term subject to four years of parole ineligibility; lesser concurrent terms were imposed on the other convictions.
In this appeal, defendant argues:
I. THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCH AND SEIZURES AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. I, PAR 7 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED BY THE TRIAL COURT'S FINDING THAT AN INVALID WARRANT DOES NOT RESULT IN SUPRESSION AS LONG AS THE OFFICER ACTS IN GOOD FAITH.
A. WHETHER THE POLICE RELY ON A MISTAKEN MAGISTRATE OR A MISTAKEN DATABASE, THERE IS NO GOOD FAITH EXCEPTION TO THE REQUIREMENT OF A VALID SEARCH WARRANT IN NEW JERSEY.
B. THE POLICE DID NOT EVEN TAKE REASONABLE STEPS TO IDENTIFY THE SPECIFIC UNIT TO BE SEARCHED, AS REQUIRED BY THE FEDERAL GOOD ...