NJ declines to follow Heien under state constitution

NJ declines to adopt a reasonable mistake of law justification for an automobile stop and resulting search. At issue was a traffic law barring license plate frames that cover information on the plate that resulted in 100,000 stops per year. The stop (and most of the others) were clearly pretextual. Here “Garden State” was 10-15% covered, and that’s all. The identifying information on the license plate is all visible. The court discusses Heien at length and chooses not to follow it under state law. State v. Carter, 2021 N.J. LEXIS 787 (Aug. 2, 2021).

The continuation of this stop was reasonable as officers tried to contact the owner of the car, allegedly 30 seconds away who didn’t respond to calls. A plain view justified a search at first. When the owner didn’t reply, officers arranged for a tow, and that resulted in an inventory. The officer admitted at the hearing that he misspoke in the report that all the searches were a result of an inventory. United States v. Sharp, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143293 (N.D.Ohio Aug. 2, 2021).*

Defendant was an overnight guest in the home of another when police arrived with a search warrant. Her purse was reasonably searched under the warrant. United States v. Gaitor, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143136 (E.D.Tenn. July 31, 2021).*

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