New Jersey v. SmartAnnotate this Case
The issue this case presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's consideration involved the automobile exception to the warrant requirement, as articulated in New Jersey v. Witt, 223 N.J. 409 (2015), and whether police could conduct a warrantless search of defendant Kyle Smart’s vehicle after an investigative stop. In particular, the Court considered whether the police actions giving rise to probable cause to search the vehicle were prompted by circumstances that were “unforeseeable and spontaneous,” as required under Witt. Officer Louis Taranto identified a 2017 GMC Terrain parked at a condo complex as a vehicle that had been involved in prior drug deals and that was used by a drug dealer known as “Killer.” Taranto conducted a database search and learned defendant had been listed with the moniker “Killer” and had multiple arrests and felony convictions involving controlled dangerous substances. Taranto surveilled the GMC. After about thirty minutes, he observed a female (the driver), defendant, and a child enter the GMC. Taranto followed them to a residence where he saw activity consistent with a drug transaction. At some point, Officer Samantha Sutter followed the GMC to the residence. Taranto and Sutter reasonably suspected that defendant had previously engaged in drug deals at the residence. Considering information from a confidential informant and a "concerned citizen," Taranto’s investigation, and the surveillance by Taranto and Sutter, Officers Taranto and Sutter determined they had reasonable and articulable suspicion to perform an investigative stop. The Supreme Court concluded the circumstances giving rise to probable cause in this case were not “unforeseeable and spontaneous.” The Court therefore affirmed the order suppressing the physical evidence seized from the vehicle.