NJ: No per se rule on no standing in a stolen vehicle; knowledge required

The court declines to adopt a per se rule that occupying a stolen vehicle means no standing. The defendant’s knowledge is integral to that question, and the case is remanded for that finding. State v. Taylor, 2015 N.J. Super. LEXIS 75 (May 12, 2015):

Whether an individual has an expectation of privacy requires a fact-sensitive analysis. For Fourth Amendment purposes, to determine whether a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a place or object, courts must make “a two-part inquiry: first, has the individual manifested a subjective expectation of privacy in the object of the challenged search? Second, is society willing to recognize that expectation as reasonable?” Cal. v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207, 211 106 S. Ct. 1809, 1811, 90 L. Ed. 2d 210, 215 (1986). HN5Go to the description of this Headnote.Unlike the federal two-part inquiry, the New Jersey constitutional standard does not require the defendant to prove a subjective expectation of privacy. Hinton, supra, 216 N.J. at 236, 78 A.3d 553. Rather, “Article I, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution ‘requires only that an expectation of privacy be reasonable.'” Ibid. (citing Hempele, supra, 120 N.J. at 200, 576 A.2d 793).

“[E]xpectations of privacy are established by general social norms,” and must align with the “aims of a free and open society.” Hempele, supra, 120 N.J. at 200-01, 576 A.2d 793 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). Under federal law, defendants have the burden of proving they had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the place or object searched. Rawlings v. Ky., 448 U.S. 98, 104-05, 100 S. Ct. 2556, 2561, 65 L. Ed. 2d 633, 641 (1980). “Under state law, a ‘defendant must show that a reasonable or legitimate expectation of privacy was trammeled by government authorities.'” Hinton, supra, 216 N.J. at 233, 78 A.3d 553 (quoting State v. Evers, 175 N.J. 355, 368-69, 815 A.2d 432 (2003)).

In the case before us, we conclude that the question of whether defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the motor vehicle cannot be solely determined as a matter of law, but requires a fact-sensitive inquiry. Such an inquiry is required since we decline the State’s invitation to formulate a bright—line rule, as a matter of law, that an individual operating or occupying a stolen motor vehicle, regardless of their knowledge of its status, does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

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