A Budd Lake resident was arrested and charged with possession of heroin after a motor vehicle stop on June 1st, according to an article on NJ.com. The driver was pulled over for an unsafe lane change and a search was conducted of the motor vehicle which resulted in six (6) glassine bags of heroin, twenty-seven (27) hypodermic needles, and other drug paraphernalia. This is a third degree heroin possession charge which is punishable by up to five (5) years in state prison if convicted. The drug paraphernalia charges are disorderly persons offenses which are punishable by up to six (6) months in the county jail.
It will be interesting to see how the search was conducted of the motor vehicle. The police must have a valid exception to the warrant requirement to search a motor vehicle without a warrant. “Plain view”, “search incident to arrest”, and “consent” are three potential exceptions to the warrant requirement which would make this warrantless search legal. However, the consent must be knowing and voluntary and the defendant must be informed of the right to refuse to consent. Otherwise, the consent search is not valid and the drugs that were seized are inadmissible under “the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.”
For additional information, please see the NJ.com article entitled “Mount Olive police charge Budd Lake woman with possession of heroin and needles”.