Archive for December 2011

NEW JERSEY LAWYERS REVIEW RECENT APPELLATE DIVISION RULING UPHOLDING WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF NARCOTICS FOLLOWING INVESTIGATION OF OFFICER INTO LOUD SEX FROM A RESIDENCE.

In response to call from a neighbor reporting loud screaming, law enforcement investigated by travelling to the house to determine if anyone was in need of aid. Upon arrival at the scene, a man answered the door and explained to the officer that any loud noises emanating from the residence was a result of cries released in the height of passionate sex. Law enforcement asked for confirmation from the man’s partner who came to the door dressed in a towel and confirmed the story. Nevertheless, law enforcement asked for identification from the man who proceeded up a flight of steps followed by the officer. The officer subsequently observed narcotics in the home and arrested the man for a narcotics offense.

The Appellate Division ruled that the intrusion by law enforcement was justified under the community-caretaking role exception to the warrant requirement. The investigating officer did not have to accept the explanation of the occupants as they could have been lying regarding the reason for the loud cries even though the officer could point to no reason why the occupants may have been lying to him prior to his entry into the residence. The potential for harm justified the police in searching further in spite of the explanations from the occupants. Based upon the totality of the circumstances, the Appellate Division held that the police had an objectively reasonable basis to invoke the emergency-aid exception to the warrant requirement.

Legal Quote of the Week:

There are two, and only two, foundations of law….equity and utility.

Edmund Burke, 1729-1797, Tracts on the Popery Laws