Partygoers Prevail: Warrantless Search by the Local Police Not Allowed

Police Need a Warrant to Search a Home when Investigating a Noise Violation

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently upheld an Appellate Division decision which held that individuals hosting a party had a reasonable expectation of privacy, which prohibited police officers from conducting a warrantless search of the Defendant’s house.

In State of New Jersey vs. Derek J. Kaltner, the Defendant hosted a party in a home that he rented.  Five police officers arrived at the home after receiving a noise complaint.  Upon their arrival, the officers heard loud noise coming from the home.  They knocked on the door and entered the home after an unidentified person opened the door and allowed the officers to enter.  The officers proceeded to search the home and inquire from the party-goers who was responsible for the party.

During the search, the police officers entered the Defendant’s bedroom and saw what the police officers believed was a controlled dangerous substance (CDS).  In addition to writing three summonses for violating the city’s noise ordinance, the police officers also arrested the Defendant and charged him with possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

The trial court found the police officers’ testimony regarding the size of the party and the volume of noise to be credible. However, the judge concluded that the officers unlawfully extended their search beyond entry into the first floor main living area.  The judge explained that any number of methods could have been used by the officers to locate the resident of the premises which would not require them to invade the private areas of the home.

Based on this analysis, the drug evidence was suppressed.  The Appellate Division affirmed the Trial Court’s decision.  The State appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court which ultimately affirmed the Appellate Division.

If you were a loved one have been charged with a crime do not just plead guilty.  The police may not have had a legal reason to stop you, to detain you, to search you or arrest you.  Protect your rights! Contact the criminal defense attorneys at DeMichele & DeMichele to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation.  Help is only a phone call away (856) 546-1350.