NJ: Analysis of “unforeseeable and spontaneous” PC for application of the NJ automobile exception is case-by-case

Analysis of “unforeseeable and spontaneous” probable cause for application of the automobile exception in New Jersey is case-by-case. State v. Smart, 2023 N.J. LEXIS 208 (Mar. 8, 2023):

In the factual setting of this investigative stop, where the circumstances giving rise to probable cause were not “unforeseeable or spontaneous,” a warrant was required before searching the GMC. Clearly, the driver refused consent to search the GMC. That suggests that seizing the GMC and securing a warrant would not have been a greater intrusion into the privacy interests of the occupants. The GMC could easily have been impounded, given that the police station was minutes away from the stop. And under the facts of this case, a warrant would have been issued following review of a search warrant application.

We emphasize, however, that the question of whether the circumstances giving rise to probable cause were unforeseeable and spontaneous is a fact-sensitive inquiry that should be analyzed case by case, as we have done in this appeal.

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