Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Jersey has a state constitution

Hat tip to FourthAmendment.com. In State v. Minitee, A-5002-06T4 (N.J. App. August 16, 2010), the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division held that the New Jersey Constitution provides greater protection than the Fourth Amendment with regard to the automobile exception:

We harmonize the seemingly inconsistent holdings in Martin and Pena-Flores by finding that the exigent circumstances that existed at the scene only permitted the police to seize the vehicle and transport it to a secure location. Thereafter, the police were constitutionally required to obtain a warrant before searching the vehicle. This approach distinguishes between, and guards against, unreasonable searches and unreasonable seizures, the two fundamental protections embodied in Article I, Paragraph 7 of our State Constitution.

We consider the United States Supreme Court's decision in Chambers v. Maroney, 399 U.S. 42, 51-52, (1970), permitting warrantless searches of vehicles impounded by the police, to constitute binding authority only under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Under Article I, Paragraph 7 of our State's Constitution, as interpreted by the Court in Pena-Flores, however, the police must, where practicable, obtain a warrant before searching a vehicle that has been seized and impounded under the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement.

Article I, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution states the following:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue except upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the papers and things to be seized.
The Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights, Section 15 states the following:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons and property against unreasonable searches and seizures shall be inviolate; and no warrant shall issue but on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or property to be seized.

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