Drugs Suppressed For Lack Of Probable Cause To Arrest
- May 1, 2014
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An individual was seen by police leaning against the porch in front of a closed community center building in an area known for violent crime and drug activity. There was a no loitering sign posted on the building and it was very early in the morning so there was an assumption by the officer the center was closed and the individual had no business there. Upon seeing the police car, the individual, David Gibson, began walking. Officer Wayne Comengo stopped the defendant, Gibson, and based on what Comengo described as Gibson’s nervous demeanor he was arrested for defiant trespass (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3(b)). The search incident to arrest led to the discovery of 13 plastic bags of crack cocaine on Gibson’s person. Gibson moved to suppress the drugs at trial based on lack of probable cause to arrest. The trial judge denied the motion finding probable cause to arrest did exist and, therefore, the crack cocaine found on his person during the search was admissible. The Appellate Division affirmed the finding of probable cause and Gibson appealed to the NJ Supreme Court. Gibson’s argument was that the crack cocaine must be suppressed due to lack of probable cause as the defendant was merely waiting for a ride at the community center, two blocks from his child’s mothers home where he had been visiting. Gibson further contended that because he was merely waiting for a ride he was not loitering. The sign on the building warned against loitering, not trespassing. Loitering and trespassing are different crimes and there was no sign on the community center indicating trespass onto the property was illegal. While trespass prohibits entry onto the property, loitering involves lingering or remaining on the property. In State v. Gibson, the NJ Supreme Court held that the evidence on the record was insufficient to find that probable cause to arrest for defiant trespass existed and the fruits of the search must be suppressed. Drug charges can destroy your future and, if you have prior drug charges, you are subject to harsher sentences each time. If you are facing charges for drug possession or distribution you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. For more information about controlled dangerous substances (CDS), distribution, possession, under the influence, paraphernalia or CDS in a motor vehicle visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.