State v. Marcellus

The New Jersey Appellate Division reversed the trial court’s order that denied the defendant’s suppression motion. The defendant’s mother, who does not speak English, had a room in the defendant’s aunt’s house. Police officers went to the house, and the aunt signed a consent to search form. The defendant’s mother did not consent to a search of her room. Notwithstanding the absence of the defendant’s mother’s consent to a search of her room, two officers went to the room and asked in English where the defendant’s clothes were. She went to an opaque bag, retrieved it, and gave it to the officers. The defendant sought to suppress the contents of the bag and a shoebox. The trial court denied the motion. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court held that even if consent was lawfully given to officers to enter and search the home, and consent was lawfully given to enter and search the defendant’s mother’s room, consent was not validly given for a search into the opaque bag and closed shoebox that everyone, including the police, knew belonged exclusively to the defendant. “A thorough search of the record found no evidence permitting even an inference that the police possessed an objectively reasonable belief that either the defendant’s aunt or the defendant’s mother had a possessory interest in the opaque bag and shoebox.”

Search entire site by keyword...

Search for Summaries by Hashtag...

Past Opinion Summaries