New Jersey v. Boone

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Justia Opinion Summary

Defendant Akeem Boone faced seven charges related to drugs and a weapon found during an August 2012 search of his apartment in Hackensack. He sought to suppress the evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant police had secured for his apartment, Unit 4A, because the warrant application did not include any evidence as to why that specific unit should be searched. The trial court denied Boone’s motion to suppress. It found, based on the totality of the circumstances, that the warrant application sufficiently detailed hand-to-hand transactions, counter-surveillance techniques, and past interactions with Boone to establish probable cause for a search. Subsequently, Boone pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and a related weapons offense. The Appellate Division affirmed, finding that the application contained “adequate circumstantial indicia” to support issuing a warrant to search Boone’s apartment unit. The New Jersey Supreme Court disagreed: although police submitted a detailed warrant application that included information about Boone’s alleged drug-dealing in the general area, nothing in the application specified how police knew Boone lived in Unit 4A or why that unit -- one of thirty units in the building -- should have been searched. Because the warrant affidavit failed to provide specific information as to why Boone’s apartment and not other units should be searched, the warrant application was deficient. Accordingly, the judgment of the Appellate Division was reversed and Boone's convictions vacated.

SYLLABUS

(This syllabus is not part of the opinion of the Court. It has been prepared by the Office of the Clerk for the
convenience of the reader. It has been neither reviewed nor approved by the Supreme Court. Please note that, in the
interest of brevity, portions of any opinion may not have been summarized.)

                                     State v. Akeem Boone (A-3-16) (077757)

Argued September 25, 2017 -- Decided December 18, 2017

FERNANDEZ-VINA, J., writing for the Court.

          In this appeal, the Court considers whether a warrant application that did not include evidence as to why a
specific apartment unit should be searched fell short of establishing probable cause for the search of that apartment.

          Over the course of two months during the summer of 2012, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
Narcotics Task Force set up surveillance of defendant Akeem Boone for suspected distribution of crack cocaine,
marijuana, and heroin. On August 27, 2012, police observed Boone drive to a parking lot in River Edge and retrieve
a duffel bag from an unoccupied vehicle. He later drove to an apartment building, 211 Johnson Avenue, where
police suspected he lived. Boone did not bring the bag into the thirty-unit building. An hour later, Boone went to
retrieve the bag but, noticing the vehicle from which police were monitoring him, returned the bag to the car and
drove away. Several times that day, police saw him drive to and from the Johnson Avenue apartment complex.
That same evening, police followed Boone from Johnson Avenue to Main Street in Hackensack, where they
observed what appeared to be a hand-to-hand drug transaction. Boone then drove back to the apartment complex.

          On August 29, 2012, Detective Dennis Conway of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office applied for a
warrant to search Boone, his car, and Unit 4A of 211 Johnson Avenue—identified as Boone’s apartment—among
other things. The detective did not note that the building was a thirty-unit apartment building, nor did he provide
any details about Unit 4A or how police knew Boone was a tenant in that unit. Although the warrant application
frequently mentions 211 Johnson Avenue, it never discusses the inside of the apartment building, and it fails to
mention Unit 4A other than in passing. However, the detective concluded that “my investigation reveals that Boone
is distributing Controlled Dangerous Substances, 211 Johnson Avenue, Apartment 4A, Hackensack.”

         The trial court subsequently issued a warrant to search Boone, his residence, and his car. Police executed
the search warrant on September 7, 2012, and found between one-half and five ounces of cocaine and an illegal
handgun in Unit 4A. They then arrested Boone. In February 2013, a grand jury charged Boone with seven counts
of drug, weapons, and child endangerment offenses.

         Boone sought to suppress the evidence found in Unit 4A on the ground that the search warrant lacked a
factual basis to establish probable cause to search his apartment. The trial court denied the motion. Although the
court acknowledged that police offered no support to justify a search of Unit 4A, it noted that Detective Conway
provided extensive details of the police surveillance of Boone. The court found that Boone’s activity, coupled with
the detective’s investigative experience and Boone’s criminal history, established probable cause to search Unit 4A.
After the denial of his motion to suppress, Boone pled guilty to two second-degree drug offenses.

          The Appellate Division affirmed the denial of the motion to suppress in an unpublished opinion. The panel
held that the totality of the circumstances presented in the affidavit justified a finding of probable cause for the
issuance of the search warrant. The panel found that the issuing judge had “ample grounds to anticipate” that
narcotics would be in Boone’s apartment “given the furtive conduct of defendant the surveilling officers had
observed and his two recent apparent hand-to-hand drug transactions at another location.”

         The Court granted certification. 
227 N.J. 356 (2016).

HELD: Because the warrant affidavit failed to provide specific information as to why defendant’s apartment and not
other units should be searched, the warrant application was deficient.


                                                          1
1. The search-and-seizure provision in Article I, Paragraph 7 of New Jersey’s Constitution affords a higher level of
protection for citizens than the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Searches without a warrant are
presumed unreasonable unless they fall within an exception to the warrant requirement. (pp. 9-10)

2. The application for a warrant must satisfy the issuing authority that there is probable cause to believe that a crime
has been committed, or is being committed, at a specific location or that evidence of a crime is at the place sought to
be searched. The requirement for a search warrant is not a mere formality, and the showing necessary to secure one
should be based not merely on belief or suspicion, but on underlying facts or circumstances which would warrant a
prudent man in believing that the law was being violated. (p. 10)

3. Reviewing courts accord substantial deference to the discretionary determination resulting in the issuance of the
search warrant. Courts consider the totality of the circumstances and should sustain the validity of a search only if
the finding of probable cause relies on adequate facts. The probable cause determination must be based on the
information contained within the four corners of the supporting affidavit, as supplemented by sworn testimony
before the issuing judge that is recorded contemporaneously. The analysis into sufficient probable cause to issue a
warrant for an arrest or for a search involves two separate inquiries. (pp. 10-12)

4. In State v. Keyes, the Court held that a confidential informant’s tip could serve as the basis for issuing a warrant
provided that there is “substantial evidence in the record to support the informant’s statements.” 
184 N.J. 541, 555
(2005). Although police could not observe the informant enter the home in that case, under the totality of the
circumstances, there was a sufficient basis to issue the warrant based on the controlled drug buy. Id. at 559-60. The
Court credited the informant’s past contributions to drug sale arrests, his description of the defendant, the controlled
buy, and the fact that known drug users were entering and exiting the area as contributing to the totality of the
circumstances. Id. at 558-60. Because police had that corroborating evidence and the informant’s tip linking the
defendant to the apartment, the Court held that the warrant had a sufficient basis. (pp. 12-13)

5. Here, no independent documentary evidence, such as a voting record, utility bill, or lease, was offered to
corroborate Boone’s address. No neighbor, informant, or controlled transaction demonstrated that Boone lived in
Unit 4A. Police failed to provide the issuing judge a basis of knowledge from which to conclude that contraband
would be found in the particular apartment. That is true regardless of whether the warrant application provided a
basis for Boone’s arrest because, as noted, probable cause to arrest a suspect is not synonymous with probable cause
to search that suspect’s apartment. Police lacked the facts important in Keyes, namely a reliable informant who
could identify where Boone lived. Police here listed Boone’s apartment unit as the targeted property in a conclusory
manner, without any evidential basis as to how they knew that specific unit in a thirty-unit building contained
contraband. The Court recognizes that the error here was likely an innocent oversight by the police. However,
because New Jersey does not recognize an officer’s good faith alone as an exception to the warrant requirement, the
error demands reversal. (pp. 13-16)

6. Because the State’s warrant application did not include specific evidence as to why a judge should issue a search
warrant for a specific apartment unit, the search warrant issued on the basis of that application was invalid. And,
because the police search of Unit 4A was not supported by a valid warrant or justified by an exception to the warrant
requirement, the search was unconstitutional. Therefore, the Court suppresses all evidence seized from Boone’s
apartment. The Court emphasizes that judges issuing search warrants must scrutinize the warrant application and tie
specific evidence to the persons, property, or items the State seeks to search. Without that specificity and
connection to the facts, the application must fail. (pp. 16-17)

         The judgment of the Appellate Division is REVERSED and Boone’s convictions are VACATED.

       CHIEF JUSTICE RABNER and JUSTICES LaVECCHIA, ALBIN, PATTERSON, SOLOMON,
and TIMPONE join in JUSTICE FERNANDEZ-VINA’s opinion.




                                                           2
                                      SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY
                                         A-
3 September Term 2016
                                                 077757

STATE OF NEW JERSEY,

    Plaintiff-Respondent,

         v.

AKEEM BOONE,

    Defendant-Appellant.


         Argued September 25, 2017 – Decided December 18, 2017

         On certification to the Superior Court,
         Appellate Division.

         Daniel V. Gautieri, Assistant Deputy Public
         Defender, argued the cause for appellant
         (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender,
         attorney; Daniel V. Gautieri, of counsel and
         on the briefs).

         Suzanne E. Cevasco, Assistant Prosecutor,
         argued the cause for respondent (Gurbir S.
         Grewal, Bergen County Prosecutor, attorney;
         Suzanne E. Cevasco, of counsel and on the
         briefs, and Catherine A. Foddai, of
         counsel).

         Jenny M. Hsu, Deputy Attorney General,
         argued the cause for amicus curiae Attorney
         General of New Jersey (Christopher S.
         Porrino, Attorney General, attorney; Jenny
         M. Hsu, of counsel and on the brief).


    JUSTICE FERNANDEZ-VINA delivered the opinion of the Court.

    In this appeal, we consider whether a warrant application

that did not include evidence as to why a specific apartment


                                1
unit should be searched fell short of establishing probable

cause for the search of that apartment, in violation of the

Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article

I, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution.

    Defendant Akeem Boone faced seven charges related to drugs

and a weapon found during an August 2012 search of his apartment

in Hackensack.   He sought to suppress the evidence seized

pursuant to a search warrant police had secured for his

apartment, Unit 4A, because the warrant application did not

include any evidence as to why that specific unit should be

searched.

    The trial court denied Boone’s motion to suppress.       It

found, based on the totality of the circumstances, that the

warrant application sufficiently detailed hand-to-hand

transactions, counter-surveillance techniques, and past

interactions with Boone to establish probable cause for a

search.   Subsequently, Boone pleaded guilty to possession of a

controlled substance with intent to distribute and a related

weapons offense.   The Appellate Division affirmed, finding that

the application contained “adequate circumstantial indicia” to

support issuing a warrant to search Boone’s apartment unit.

    We disagree.    Although police submitted a detailed warrant

application that included information about Boone’s alleged

drug-dealing in the general area, nothing in the application

                                 2
specified how police knew Boone lived in Unit 4A or why that

unit -- one of thirty units in the building -- should be

searched.   Because the warrant affidavit failed to provide

specific information as to why Boone’s apartment and not other

units should be searched, the warrant application was deficient.

Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Division

and vacate Boone’s convictions.

                                  I.

                                  A.

    Over the course of two months during the summer of 2012,

the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force set

up surveillance of Boone for suspected distribution of crack

cocaine, marijuana, and heroin.    Police observed Boone engage in

drug-related activities in Englewood, River Edge, and

Hackensack.

    On August 27, 2012, police observed Boone drive to a

parking lot in River Edge and retrieve a duffel bag from an

unoccupied vehicle.   He later drove to an apartment building,

211 Johnson Avenue, where police suspected he lived.    Boone did

not bring the bag into the thirty-unit building.    An hour later,

Boone went to retrieve the bag but, noticing the vehicle from

which police were monitoring him, returned the bag to the car

and drove away.   Several times that day, police saw him drive to

and from the Johnson Avenue apartment complex.

                                  3
    That same evening, police followed Boone from Johnson

Avenue to Main Street in Hackensack, where they observed what

appeared to be a hand-to-hand drug transaction between Boone and

a man in a black Acura.   Police checked the license plates on

the Acura and learned the car was registered to a person who had

previously been arrested for narcotics possession.      Boone then

drove back to the Johnson Avenue apartment complex.

    On August 29, 2012, Detective Dennis Conway of the Bergen

County Prosecutor’s Office applied for a warrant to search

Boone, his car, and Unit 4A of 211 Johnson Avenue -- identified

as Boone’s apartment -- among other things.       Specifically,

Conway described Boone’s residence as a “multi-family dwelling,

constructed of tan brick. . . .       The [principal] entrance for

the premise[s] has the number #211 on the front glass door.

There are three (3) steps to get to the glass front doors.”

    The detective did not note that the building was a thirty-

unit apartment building, nor did he provide any details about

Unit 4A or how police knew Boone was a tenant in that unit.

    In describing the basis of his knowledge, the detective

stated that he had been investigating Boone since July 29, 2012.

He indicated that he learned that Boone had been arrested in

April 2011 in New York for burglary.      He wrote that police had

observed Boone entering an Englewood apartment where a known

drug dealer lived.   He also included information about Boone’s

                                  
4 August 27, 2012 activity.   Although the warrant application

frequently mentions 211 Johnson Avenue, it never discusses the

inside of the apartment building, and it fails to mention Unit

4A other than in passing.   However, the detective concluded that

“my investigation reveals that Boone is distributing Controlled

Dangerous Substances, 211 Johnson Avenue, Apartment 4A,

Hackensack.”

    The trial court subsequently issued a warrant to search

Boone, his residence, and his car.   Police executed the search

warrant on September 7, 2012, and found between one-half and

five ounces of cocaine and an illegal handgun in Unit 4A.      They

then arrested Boone.

                                B.

    In February 2013, a grand jury charged Boone with first-

degree operating a facility used to manufacture a controlled

substance, contrary to 
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-4 (count one); second-

degree possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute,

contrary to 
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and (b)(2) (count two);

second-degree possession of a firearm while committing a

controlled substance offense, contrary to 
N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1(a)

(count three); third-degree receiving stolen property, contrary

to 
N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7 (count four); second-degree endangering the

welfare of a child, contrary to 
N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a) (count

five); third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, contrary

                                 5
to 
N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a) (count six); and second-degree certain

persons not permitted to have a weapon, contrary to 
N.J.S.A.

2C:39-7 (count seven).

    Boone sought to suppress the evidence found in Unit 4A on

the ground that the search warrant lacked a factual basis to

establish probable cause to search his apartment.

    The trial court denied the motion in a written opinion.

Although the court acknowledged that police offered no support

to justify a search of Unit 4A, it noted that Detective Conway

provided extensive details of the police surveillance of Boone.

The court found the detective credible.   Despite the lack of

specificity, the court found that “[t]here is no binding

authority that prompts the officer to state a reason why

Apartment 4A was the subject of the search warrant and not any

other apartment in the complex.”

    The court noted that police established “suspicious

circumstances” based on Boone’s furtive movements, hand-to-hand

drug transactions, use of the apartment building -- “a common

factor in the surveillance” -- and erratic driving to justify

probable cause to search his apartment unit.   In denying the

motion, the court found that Boone’s activity, coupled with the

detective’s investigative experience and Boone’s criminal

history, established probable cause to search Unit 4 A. 6
    After the denial of his motion to suppress, Boone pled

guilty to second-degree possession of a controlled substance

with the intent to distribute, contrary to 
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-

5(a)(1) and (b)(2), and second-degree possession of a weapon

while committing a controlled substance crime, contrary to


N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1(a).   He was sentenced to three years of

imprisonment with one year of parole ineligibility for the drug

offense, to run consecutively with the sentence of five years of

imprisonment with three years of parole ineligibility on the

weapons offense.    In total, Boone faced eight years of

imprisonment with four years of parole ineligibility, in

addition to concurrent sentences for unrelated offenses.

    The Appellate Division affirmed the denial of the motion to

suppress in an unpublished opinion.    The panel held that the

totality of the circumstances presented in the affidavit

justified a finding of probable cause for the issuance of the

search warrant.    Further, the panel noted that “[t]here were

adequate circumstantial indicia here to support a reasonable

belief that the apartment that was searched was indeed

defendant’s.”   Specifically, the panel found that the issuing

judge had “ample grounds to anticipate” that narcotics would be

in Boone’s apartment “given the furtive conduct of defendant the

surveilling officers had observed and his two recent apparent

hand-to-hand drug transactions at another location.”

                                  7
    We granted certification, 
227 N.J. 356 (2016), and also

granted the Attorney General amicus curiae status.

                               II.

    Boone argues that the warrant application was deficient

because it listed Unit 4A as Boone’s residence in a conclusory

manner, without a sufficient factual basis.   He argues that

police could have easily verified his residence through

surveillance or government records.   Additionally, he argues

that there was similarly no basis to conclude that narcotics

were in his apartment because the affidavit never established a

nexus linking the hand-to-hand drug transactions with Boone’s

residence.

    Although the State concedes that it did not provide a

factual basis to indicate why Unit 4A should be searched, it

counters that the totality of the circumstances justified the

issuance of a search warrant because surveillance placed Boone

at 211 Johnson Avenue before and after drug transactions.      The

State argues that omission of facts supporting the apartment

unit does nothing to diminish the direct evidence of those

transactions.

    Amicus curiae, the Attorney General, further argues that

Boone did not overcome the presumption of validity attached to

search warrants.   Amicus argues that the omission of facts



                                8
connected to the apartment unit is a technical error that should

not invalidate an otherwise well-supported warrant application.

                                 III.

                                  A.

    An appellate court reviewing a motion to suppress evidence

in a criminal case must uphold the factual findings underlying

the trial court’s decision, provided that those findings are

“supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record.”

State v. Scriven, 
226 N.J. 20, 40 (2016).    The suppression

motion judge’s findings should be overturned “only if they are

so clearly mistaken 'that the interests of justice demand

intervention and correction.’”    State v. Elders, 
192 N.J. 224,

244 (2007) (quoting State v. Johnson, 
42 N.J. 146, 162 (1964)).

However, we owe no deference to conclusions of law made by lower

courts in suppression decisions, which we instead review de

novo.   State v. Watts, 
223 N.J. 503, 516 (2015).

                                  B.

    The search-and-seizure provision in Article I, Paragraph 7

of New Jersey’s Constitution affords a higher level of

protection for citizens than the Fourth Amendment of the United

States Constitution.   See State v. Johnson, 
193 N.J. 528, 541

(2008).   Great protection applies especially in one’s home, the

sanctity of which “is among our most cherished rights.”     State

v. Bryant, 
227 N.J. 60, 69 (2016) (quoting State v. Frankel, 179

                                  
9 N.J. 586, 611 (2004)).     Therefore, our courts have announced a

preference for law enforcement to secure warrants from detached

judges prior to a search, and searches without a warrant are

presumed unreasonable unless they fall within an exception to

the warrant requirement.     Id. at 69-70; see also State v.

Edmonds, 
211 N.J. 117, 129 (2012); Johnson, 
193 N.J. at 552.

    The application for a warrant must satisfy the issuing

authority “that there is probable cause to believe that a crime

has been committed, or is being committed, at a specific

location or that evidence of a crime is at the place sought to

be searched.”   State v. Jones, 
179 N.J. 377, 388 (2004)

(emphases added) (quoting State v. Sullivan, 
169 N.J. 204, 210

(2001)).   A neutral magistrate, not the police, should determine

whether an application for a search warrant is based on

sufficient probable cause.    State v. Chippero, 
201 N.J. 14, 26

(2009).    The “requirement for a search warrant is not a mere

formality,” and the showing necessary to secure one should be

based “not merely [on] belief or suspicion, but [on] underlying

facts or circumstances which would warrant a prudent man in

believing that the law was being violated.”     State v.

Novembrino, 
105 N.J. 95, 107 (1987) (brackets removed) (quoting

State v. Macri, 
39 N.J. 250, 255 (1963)).

    A search that is executed pursuant to a warrant is

“presumptively valid,” and a defendant challenging the issuance

                                  10
of that warrant has the burden of proof to establish a lack of

probable cause “or that the search was otherwise unreasonable.”

Watts, 
223 N.J. at 513-14 (quoting State v. Keyes, 
184 N.J. 541,

554 (2005)).   Reviewing courts “accord substantial deference to

the discretionary determination resulting in the issuance of the

[search] warrant.”   Jones, 
179 N.J. at 388 (quoting Sullivan,


169 N.J. at 211 (alteration in original)).     Courts consider the

“totality of the circumstances” and should sustain the validity

of a search only if the finding of probable cause relies on

adequate facts.   Id. at 388-89.    “[T]he probable cause

determination must be . . . based on the information contained

within the four corners of the supporting affidavit, as

supplemented by sworn testimony before the issuing judge that is

recorded contemporaneously.”   State v. Marshall, 
199 N.J. 602,

611 (2009) (quoting Schneider v. Simonini, 
163 N.J. 336, 363

(2000)).

    As this Court recognized in Chippero, the analysis into

sufficient probable cause to issue a warrant for an arrest or

for a search involves two separate inquiries.    
201 N.J. at 28.

In adopting Professor LaFave’s language, we noted that

           [t]wo conclusions necessary to the issuance of
           the [search] warrant must be supported by
           substantial evidence: that the items sought
           are in fact seizable by virtue of being
           connected with criminal activity, and that the
           items will be found in the place to be
           searched. By comparison, the right of arrest

                                   11
          arises only when a crime is committed or
          attempted in the presence of the arresting
          officer or when the officer has “reasonable
          grounds to believe” -- sometimes stated
          “probable cause to believe” -- that a felony
          has been committed by the person to be
          arrested. Although it would appear that the
          conclusions which justify either arrest or the
          issuance of a search warrant must be supported
          by evidence of the same degree of probity, it
          is clear that the conclusions themselves are
          not identical.

          [Ibid. (emphases added) (quoting 2 Wayne R.
          LaFave, Search & Seizure § 3.1(b) at 9-10 (4th
          ed. 2004) (footnotes omitted)).]

    Ultimately, we determined that “a probable cause

determination to search a home where the suspect lives may be

valid irrespective of whether probable cause to arrest that

particular individual has crystallized.”     Id. at 31.

    We have upheld the issuance of a search warrant for an

apartment unit based only on an informant’s description of that

unit.   Keyes, 
184 N.J. at 548-49, 555.    There, police conducted

surveillance of a housing project but could not view the

entrance of a suspected drug house where an informant engaged in

a controlled narcotics buy.    Id. at 548-49.   An informant

provided the description of a “two (2) story red brick apartment

row home . . . .   236 Rosemont Place is a one story apartment

and is on the ground floor.”   Id. at 549.   The police included

the informant’s statement in their warrant application, which

was granted by the municipal court.    Id. at 550.   The Appellate


                                 12
Division reversed the trial court’s denial of the motion to

suppress, holding that, among other reasons, police did not

independently verify the informant’s description of the property

and did not actually observe him entering the defendant’s

apartment.   Id. at 551.

      In Keyes we reversed, holding that a confidential

informant’s tip could serve as the basis for issuing a warrant

provided that there is “substantial evidence in the record to

support the informant’s statements.”   Id. at 555.    Although

police could not observe the informant enter the home, under the

totality of the circumstances, there was a sufficient basis to

issue the warrant based on the controlled drug buy.    Id. at 559-

60.   We credited the informant’s past contributions to drug sale

arrests, his description of the defendant, the controlled buy,

and the fact that known drug users were entering and exiting the

area as contributing to the totality of the circumstances.       Id.

at 558-60.   Because police had that corroborating evidence and

the informant’s tip linking the defendant to the apartment, we

held that the warrant had a sufficient basis.   Id. at 560.

                                IV.

      With those principles in mind, we now evaluate the factual

basis underpinning the issuing judge’s decision to authorize a

search warrant for Unit 4A.   We conclude that, because there



                                13
were no facts specifically pointing to that unit, the warrant

application failed to establish probable cause.

    The State concedes that there are no facts in the warrant

application related to Unit 4A, and the Attorney General agrees

that a warrant authorizing a search of an entire apartment

complex rather than an individual unit would be invalid.

Instead, the State relies on a more general totality-of-the-

circumstances argument to justify the issuance of the warrant

here.   That argument, however, ignores the obligation of courts

to independently verify an officer’s submissions as to each

aspect of the application that must be supported by probable

cause for a warrant to issue; we cannot infer facts that are not

supported in an affidavit, even something as simple as a missing

address.

    No independent documentary evidence, such as a voting

record, utility bill, or lease, was offered to corroborate

Boone’s address.   No neighbor, informant, or controlled

transaction demonstrated that Boone lived in Unit 4A.      The State

argued that it could have learned Boone’s residence from past

arrests, but at oral argument defense counsel asserted that

Boone’s criminal record indicates an Englewood address.     Beyond

that, nothing in the warrant affidavit ties Unit 4A to the

criminal activity alleged elsewhere in the affidavit.      Police

failed to provide the issuing judge a basis of knowledge from

                                14
which to conclude that contraband would be found in the

particular apartment.

    The State, in its submission and at oral argument, has

asserted that it presented voluminous evidence based on a month-

long investigation that established sufficient probable cause

implicating Boone in drug dealing.    That may be sufficient to

issue a warrant to arrest Boone; however, there was nothing in

the affidavit to indicate where Boone lived, how police knew

which apartment was his, or how the apartment was connected to

his drug dealing.   As we recognized in Chippero, 
201 N.J. at 30,

probable cause to secure an arrest warrant and probable cause to

secure a warrant to search are distinct inquiries.   Though

Chippero dealt with a lawfully issued search warrant that

insufficiently stated a basis for probable cause to arrest, the

inverse logic holds true here.   Because the warrant application

lacks a basis for knowledge of Boone’s address, the application

in this case is not sufficient to support a warrant to search

Unit 4A.   That is true regardless of whether the warrant

application provided a basis for Boone’s arrest because, as

noted, probable cause to arrest a suspect is not synonymous with

probable cause to search that suspect’s apartment.   Thus,

although police may arguably have demonstrated in the

application that they had probable cause to believe Boone had

committed a crime, nothing on the face of the warrant

                                 15
application gave rise to probable cause to believe that evidence

of any of Boone’s wrongdoing might be specifically found in Unit

4A rather than any of the other thirty units in the Johnson

Avenue building.

    Unlike in Keyes, 
184 N.J. at 559-60, where police included

in their warrant affidavit an informant’s description from a

controlled drug buy directing them to a specific apartment unit,

here no evidence points to Boone’s apartment unit.   Police

lacked the facts important in Keyes, namely a reliable informant

who could identify where Boone lived.   Police here listed

Boone’s apartment unit as the targeted property in a conclusory

manner, without any evidential basis as to how they knew that

specific unit in a thirty-unit building contained contraband.

    We recognize that the error here was likely an innocent

oversight by the police.   However, because New Jersey does not

recognize an officer’s good faith alone as an exception to the

warrant requirement, Novembrino, 
105 N.J. at 120, the error

demands reversal.

    Because the State’s warrant application did not include

specific evidence as to why a judge should issue a search

warrant for a specific apartment unit, the search warrant issued

on the basis of that application was invalid.   And, because the

police search of Unit 4A was not supported by a valid warrant or

justified by an exception to the warrant requirement, the search

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was unconstitutional.    Therefore, this Court suppresses all

evidence seized from Boone’s apartment.    See id. at 148.

    We emphasize that judges issuing search warrants must

scrutinize the warrant application and tie specific evidence to

the persons, property, or items the State seeks to search.

Without that specificity and connection to the facts, the

application must fail.

                                 V.

    Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate

Division and vacate Boone’s convictions.



     CHIEF JUSTICE RABNER and JUSTICES LaVECCHIA, ALBIN,
PATTERSON, SOLOMON, and TIMPONE join in JUSTICE FERNANDEZ-VINA’s
opinion.




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