Cops Faced Exigent Circumstances under Pena-Flores Rule – State v. Lewis

[02/08/10 – 11:03] – This morning’s Appellate Division holding in State v. Lewis is important since it marks the first time since the Supreme Court decided State v. Pena-Flores, 198 N.J. 6 (2009) that a court of appellate authority has construed the expanded exigent circumstances requirement necessary to support a seizure made under the “Automobile Exception” to the warrant requirement. In Lewis, the police conducted a search of a vehicle and seized a bag containing illegal drugs. At the motion to suppress, the judge suppressed the evidence, ruling that although the police had probable cause to search, they lacked the necessary exigent circumstances required for the automobile exception under New Jersey law. However, in today’s holding, the Appellate Division reserved, reasoning that the circumstances the police confronted at the time of the search were sufficient to establish exigency under the criteria established in Pena-Flores.

Download a copy of State v. Lewis

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