A routine traffic stop in Wyckoff, New Jersey led to multiple possession and distribution of controlled dangerous substances charges against the driver, after a Wyckoff police officer suspected that there were drugs located in the vehicle.
On December 15th at approximately 10:10 a.m., Sergeant Michael Demaio of the Wyckoff Police Department pulled over 23-year-old Zachary Moore after he ran a red light located between Wyckoff Avenue and Cedar Hill Avenue in Wyckoff. According to Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox, Demaio noted the smell of the car, suspecting that it contained marijuana.
An initial search of the vehicle led police to the discovery of four joints of marijuana, at which time Moore was arrested. Officers then enlisted the Bergen County Police K-9 unit to more thoroughly investigate the vehicle, which detected that other illegal substances were located inside.
Police then obtained a search warrant, ultimately finding a myriad of prescription drugs, including: alprazolam, naproxen, eight (80-milligram) morphine sulfate pills, 16 (30-milligram) oxycodone pills, 48 (30-milligram) oxycodone pills, and a variety of prescription drugs in the form of powder.
In the state of New Jersey, a police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a search will produce evidence associated with a crime in order to request consent to the search a motor vehicle following a traffic stop. In this case, the officer’s initial suspicion, resulting from the smell of marijuana in the vehicle, serves to establish the basis upon which he requested the driver’s consent to search the vehicle. It is unclear whether or not Mr. Moore consented to the search before it was performed, which may render the evidence obtained prior to the execution of the search warrant inadmissible in court.
With regard to the search warrant, general procedure requires law enforcement to supply a judge with sufficient evidence to establish probable cause in order for that judge to issue a warrant for the requested search. In this case, the four joints of marijuana, as well as the findings of the Bergen County Police K-9 Unit, provide the probable cause necessary for a judge to grant the requested search warrant.
In cases involving search and seizure, it is imperative that law enforcement abide by stringent procedural requirements in order for the results of said searches to be considered valid in a court of law. Deviating from these laws may represent a violation of the individual’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy under the United States Constitution.
Moore was subsequently charged with multiple possession and distribution of controlled dangerous substances offenses related to prescription drugs and marijuana before being released on his own recognizance. His is likely to be tried in Bergen County Superior Court.
An experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney would scrutinize the actions of the police officers who conducted the search of Moore’s vehicle in order to identify any errors in procedure that could justify the suppression of any evidence found during the search.
For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Pot, dozens of prescription pills found in alleged dealer’s car, Wyckoff police say