New Jersey Appellate Court: under Circumstances Police May Enter, without Search Warrant, Third-Party Residence to Arrest Dangerous Suspect
New Jersey Constitution protects private property, especially one’s home, from warrantless search and seizure. However, under certain circumstances, the police may enter a private residence to arrest a dangerous suspect, even if there is no warrant to enter and search such residence. In such case, any evidence, such as weapons or illegal drugs, found in the residence in plain view, may lead to separate charges.
In a recent published opinion, State v. Craft (Docket# A-5022–10T2), decided on May 14, 2012, New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, looked at one of those cases. In that case, the police had a warrant to arrest one James Craft, based on a shooting incident. Police officers arrived to the residence of James Craft’s mother, but they did not have a warrant to enter her residence. The Court found, however, that the mother voluntarily let the police enter the apartment. Next, the mother said that she did not know where her son was and offered to the police officers that she would call on the son’s cell phone. When she called James Craft’s cell phone, one police officer heard a phone ringing in one of the rooms of the residence, behind a closed door. The officer then entered that room and found the suspect there trying to escape through a window. The police then arrested James Craft and found an unregistered weapon and illegal drugs in the room, in plain view.