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  • James Wronko

Drugs Seized From Person Unlawfully Arrested Not Admissible In Court

In State v. Shannon, the New Jersey Superior Court affirmed a lower court ruling. The Court held that a police officer’s subjective good faith belief that a valid warrant existed cannot make an arrest made without a valid arrest warrant or probable cause justified. The Court stated that, to hold otherwise, would be akin to adopting the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule that has been explicitly and consistently rejected by the Court in State v. Novembrino, and subsequent cases.

In Novembrino, the Court reasoned that the exclusionary rule functioned not only as a deterrent to police misconduct, but also as “the indispensable mechanism for vindicating the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches.” The Court held in this case, which involved an unconstitutional seizure from a man who eighteen months earlier had his outstanding arrest and search warrant dismissed that Defendant’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure trumps the subjective, good faith reliance by the police on the invalid warrant.

The Court was equally divided 3-3 so the lower ruling was upheld. In the future, the Court could revisit the issue if the full Court is able to have 7 Supreme Court Justices available to review a similar situation.


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