Warrantless Search During Noise Complaint Deemed Improper

May 15, 2012
By Michael J. Jurista, Esq. on May 15, 2012 4:49 PM |

In State v. Kaitner, A-8 Sept. Term. 20011 (decided May 1, 2012), the issue was whether Long Branch police officers who responded to a noise complaint properly seized pills and a controlled dangerous substance belonging the home owner. The Supreme Court of New Jersey, in a per curium opinion, affirmed the Appellate Court ruling that the search was improper and that the CDS must be suppressed.

In October 2009, Long Beach police officers responded to a noise complaint at a home rented by the Defendant and four other persons. While searching for the home owners, a police officer eventually made his way into Defendant's bedroom where pills and an alleged CDS were located. When the Defendant, who was not at the home at the time of the party or the search, returned to the home, he was arrested and charged with possession of a CDS.

In ruling that the search at issue was impermissible, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with the Appellate Division that although the initial entry into the home to deal with the noise complaint was lawful, the officers' searching of the entire home was not objectionably reasonable to abate the noise violation. Furthermore, the Court noted that the Defendant retained a reasonable exception of privacy in his bedroom.

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