[7/22/09 10:50 pm] In April of last year, the Appellate Division ruled in State v. Robinson, 399 N.J. Super. 400 (App. Div. 2008) that “absent unforeseen exigent circumstances supporting the use of force, the use of a flash bang device in connection with the execution of a “knock-and-announce” warrant, nullifies the legal efficacy of such warrant, rendering the entry and search of the dwelling unconstitutional, in violation of a defendant’s rights under Article I, paragraph 7 of the Constitution of the State of New Jersey.” The Court also ruled that a delay of 20 to 30 seconds between the knocking on the door by the police and making a physical entry was insufficient and constituted unreasonable conduct by the police.

This morning, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously overruled both of these holdings in the Robinson case. Writing for the Court, Justice Rivera-Soto noted that the issue of the reasonableness of using a flash-bang device when serving a knock and announce search warrant was never argued at the trial level and was raised by the Appellate Division itself and not by the parties to the case. The Supreme Court determined that consideration of this issue by the Appellate Division without any type of trial record was inappropriate. Thus, the Court reversed on procedural grounds the bar to the use of flash-bang devices by New Jersey police when serving a knock and announce search warrant.

The Supreme Court also rejected the Appellate Division’s holding that a delay of 20 to 30 seconds between the knock/announce and entry was unreasonable. On the contrary, the Justices ruled that there was sufficient credible evidence in the trial record to suggest that under the facts of the case, the 20 to 30 second delay was reasonable.

Download a copy of State v. Robinson.

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