Articles Posted in Search and Seizure

Jersey City Police Search
Over the years, thousands of motorists have been stopped for having their license plate partially blocked.  Often times, the stops are pretextual in that law enforcement’s real interest in the vehicle and its occupants is the desire to conduct a criminal investigation.  In State v. Roman Rosado and State v. Darius Carter, two individuals that had been pulled over in a pre-textual manner challenged the statute on constitutional grounds.  Rosado and Carter prevailed in their challenges.

The Supreme court ruled that N.J.S.A. 39:3-33 should be read narrowly and afford individuals whose license plates are partially blocked but otherwise legible the benefit of the doubt.  More specifically, the court stated that, “if a frame conceals or obscures a marking in a way that it cannot be reasonably identified or discerned, the driver would be in violation of the law.”  Conversely, if a phrase like “Garden State” is partly covered but still recognizable, there would be not violation.

This decision is immensely important for individuals who are pulled over in a pre textual manner only to have a subsequent investigation lead to a car search and the recovery of alleged criminal contraband.

New Jersey has some of the strictest and most complex firearms laws in the United States.  Often times, prospective clients have questions related to their right to bear arms within our State.  This article endeavors to touch upon some issues that arise as considerations for New Jersey residents.

Is a replica air soft gun (sold at Dick’s sporting goods) a “Firearm” under New Jersey Law?

No, because air soft guns do not fire a solid projectile as required by the statute.  N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1(f.) defines firearm as – means any handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, automatic or semi-automatic rifle, or any gun, device or instrument in the nature of a weapon from which may be fired or ejected any solid projectable ball, slug, pellet, missile or bullet, or any gas, vapor or other noxious thing, by means of a cartridge or shell or by the action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances. It shall also include, without limitation, any firearm which is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun or pistol or other weapon of a similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air, or is ignited by compressed air, and ejecting a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, with sufficient force to injure a person.

After years of back and forth regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana citizens in the state overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalization.  Their vote then returned the issue back to politicians in order for them to iron out the details of how our state will proceed with the sale and regulation of this new product in our legal markets.  A sticking point for Governor Murphy has been measures to disincentivize use of the product by under-age individuals. Governor Murphy has sought to have the bill establish civil fines for underage use of marijuana.

Other components of the legislative debate have been related to revenue stream allocation, licensing issues and employment law concerns related to drug testing on the job.

What seems to be part of the hold-up regarding the penalties for underage use of marijuana is that those penalties, as they are written, contravene certain legislation passed to deal with issues of racial justice.  Racial justice legislation has been at the forefront of the state legislature’s debate since the nation’s unrest in the summer following the killing of George Floyd.  During that time, lawmakers in New Jersey passed measures to decriminalize marijuana.  Said measures ended up stalled in the state house ahead of the November election.  Now, those lawmakers are concerned that their effort to end arrests for marijuana possession will be in peril if affected by the language Governor Murphy has proposed related to underage use of marijuana.

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