Motion To Suppress Handgun Denied
- November 27, 2015
- 1 Comment
James Legette was indicted for second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun without a permit (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b) and second-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted person (N.J.S.A. 2C: 39-7). Legette, once in police custody entered his residence, with officers, and attempted to remove a handgun from his own person to avoid police detecting the gun in any subsequent search of his person. State v. Legette began when police responded to a noise complaint and noted the defendant coming from a building smelling of burnt marijuana and stopped him for investigatory purposes. The defendant claimed the need to enter his apartment to obtain his identification and the officer agreed and accompanied him. While walking through the premises toward the defendant’s apartment, the office noticed what appeared to be a gun in the pocket of the defendant’s sweatshirt. Once inside his apartment, the defendant produced his identification and removed his sweatshirt while the officer was radioing in the defendant’s information. The defendant agreed to accompany the officer back outside with the officer carrying the sweatshirt defendant had removed as evidence. Once outside, a search of the sweatshirt by the officer’s K-9 obviated the handgun in the pocket of the sweatshirt and the defendant was placed under arrest. In an ensuing motion to suppress the handgun, the NJ Superior Court trial judge held that James Legette was validly accompanied into his residence by police when sought to enter his own residence for the stated purpose of obtaining his identification. On appeal, the NJ Appellate Division reviewed State v. Walker, 213 N.J. 281 (2013) giving the officer the right to enter the common hallway of the building as he was called to the scene by citizens to investigate a noise complaint. Also under Walker, the odor of burnt marijuana emanating from the door the defendant opened gave the officer probable cause to believe contraband may be present. State v. Lamb, 218 N.J. 300, 314 (2014) which read the fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution to guarantee individuals the right of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure in their homes. However, under State v. Bruzzese, 94 N.J. 210, 234 (1983) when an individual under arrest chooses to enter their residence to obtain an item, it is both permissible and reasonable for officers to accompany them into the residence. The Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the trial judge. If you are facing charges stemming from illegal possession of a handgun, BB gun, paintball gun or other weapon it is critical you not undertake these matters without experienced counsel. For more information about unlawful possession of a weapon, illegal weapons, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes or other serious weapons offenses visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.