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Motion To Suppress A Car Stop in New Jersey

Car Stops are Subject to the Fourth Amendment

The essential purpose of the proscriptions in the Fourth Amendment is to impose a standard of “reasonableness” upon the exercise of discretion by government officials, including law enforcement agents in order “to safeguard the privacy and security of individuals against arbitrary invasions…” Marshall v. Barlow’s, Inc., 436 U.S. 307,312 (1978). In State v. Dickey, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed the allowable scope of a police seizure pursuant to Terry v. OhioState v. Dickey, 152 N.J. 468, 476 (1998). (citing, Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). In determining whether an investigative stop is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, the Terry Court put forth a two-part test. Id. The test considers (1) whether the officer’s actions were justified at their inception and (2) whether the actions were reasonably related in scope to which justified the interference in the first place. Id.

Stopping a motor vehicle on the road for reasons other than a legitimate roadblock is a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 653 (1979). In Prouse, the United States Supreme Court held that:

“Except in those situations in which there is at least articulable and reasonable suspicion that a motorist is unlicensed or that an automobile is not registered, or that either the vehicle or an occupant is otherwise subject to seizure for violation of law, stopping an automobile and detaining a driver in order to check the driver’s license and the registration of the automobile are unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 663.

Officers Need Legal Justification to Order a Person From a Vehicle

In State v. Smith, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that if an officer is to order passengers out of a motor vehicle in the state of New Jersey, the officer must have specific and articulable facts that would warrant heightened caution. State v. Smith, 134 N.J. 599, 618 (1994). Additionally, to justify a pat down, the officer must be able to point to specific, articulable facts which demonstrate that a reasonably prudent man in the circumstances, would be warranted in the belief that his safety or that of others was in danger. Id. at 619. Citing Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1, 27 (1968).

If you or someone you know would like to speak to one of our attorneys about a motion to suppress a motor vehicle stop contact our firm day or night. Our lawyers have successfully litigated motions to suppress throughout the state of New Jersey. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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