Muni-mail – New Police Procedures Mandated for Protective Sweeps – State v. Davila

[07/17/10 – 11:38 pm] On July 14th, the New Jersey Supreme Court, in a case captioned State v. Davila, announced a new set of procedures that police must follow when conducting a protective sweep while inside a residence. The case involved a protective sweep undertaken by officers investigating a multiple-murder case. The police were invited to enter an apartment during the investigation. At that stage, the police did not have probable cause to either obtain a search warrant or effect an arrest. In its unanimous decision, the Justices reasoned that a protective sweep conducted on private property is not per se invalid merely because it does not occur incident to an arrest. Law enforcement officers may conduct a protective sweep only when (1) the officers are lawfully within private premises for a legitimate purpose, which may include consent to enter; and (2) the officers on the scene have a reasonable articulable suspicion t hat the area to be swept harbors an individual posing a danger. The sweep will be upheld only if it is (1) conducted quickly, and (2) restricted to areas where the person posing a danger could hide. When an arrest is not the basis for entry, the police must be able to point to dangerous circumstances that developed once the officers were at the scene.

Download a copy of State v. Davila.

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