Gun And Drugs Discovered Due To Defendant’s Suspicious Behavior
- July 23, 2014
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Ramier Dunbar was indicted for second degree possession of a weapon (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b)); second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a)); fourth degree possession of a hollow-point bullet (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(f)); third degree resisting arrest (N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(a)); and fourth degree obstruction of the administration of law (N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1). State v. Dunbar arose from a custodial stop for which the police claimed to have probable cause. In Jersey City officers were dispatched to a report of gunshots fired. Responding officers arrived within seconds to find a group of approximately 30 individuals. They immediately noticed one individual they claimed to appear overly nervous within the screaming crowd. While maintaining constant visual contact with a marked patrol car, Dunbar disappeared down an alley momentarily then re-emerged and began walking away from the scene. Officers followed him in the patrol car and attempted to question him about the shots fired but the defendant ignored officers and, by their account, appeared more nervous. Officers ordered the Defendant to stop at which point he began to run. While running from the police, the Defendant pulled a handgun from his waistband and threw it. Officers apprehended the Defendant shortly and also discovered a bag of marijuana on his person. At trial, the judge granted Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized during his arrest. The NJ Appellate Division reversed the trial court. In rendering the decision, the Appellate Division differentiated Dunbar from State v. Williams, 410 N.J. Super. 549 (App. Div. 2009) wherein police involved in community policing stopped an individual who fled the area upon sight of the police, ignored their commands to stop, discarded contraband upon apprehension and the evidence was suppressed as the officers actions were not founded on reasonable suspicion in the eyes of the court. In State v. DeLorenzo, 166 N.J. Super. 483 (App. Div. 1979) the court held that an investigatory stop is not reasonable based on simple nervousness. Unlike Williams, the prosecution in Dunbar argued that, based on the facts, the officers formed reasonable and articulable suspicion that Defendant had committed a crime, the gun was abandoned property lawfully recovered after the Defendant discarded it and the marijuana was seized incident to arrest. Also, unlike DeLorenzo, Dunbar’s nervousness was accompanied by flight while constantly observing police and in the midst of an excited crowd immediately after gun shots were reported. The Appellate Division found the stop and seizure to fall within Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) as an exception to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution wherein a warrant is required in matters of search and seizure. The totality of “shots fired”, a “chaotic scene” and the defendant’s behavior were enough to enable the Appellate Judges to find the officers had a reasonable basis for their actions. If you are facing weapons charges or drug charges you are subject to harsh penalties including lengthy incarceration and substantial fines. You should seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to protect your rights. For more information regarding weapons possession, use of a weapon for an improper purpose, illegal weapons, robbery, possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) or other serious criminal offenses visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.