New Jersey authorities have taken three individuals into custody after a multiple-venue drug raid involving the homes of two men and a pizza parlor owned by the men after allegedly receiving complaints that drugs were being sold out of the pizza parlor. Police allegedly recovered cocaine, handguns and drug money from the Lawrence parlor.
At the two men’s homes, police also reportedly seized guns, cocaine and money in addition to three vehicles that they claim to be proceeds of drug sales. The two pizza parlor owners taken into custody on drug and weapon possession charges in addition to charges for intent to distribute. One of the men’s wife was also taken into custody and charged with drug possession.
Any search and seizure conducted by the police has to follow a particular procedure in order to be just and acceptable under the law. These requirements stem from the U.S. Constitution, which requires that probable cause exist and a warrant obtained before the search or seizure is conducted. Probable cause is basically police having a specified, legitimate reason for investigating illegality. Here, police may have to further explain the reasons for conducting searches of the owners’ businesses and homes. Mere complaints of drug dealings alone may not indicate enough probable cause to conduct a search. However, highly regulated businesses such as food establishments are protected with less of a probable cause standard and, as such, may be searched more freely.
The determination of whether there was enough probable cause to search the premises can only be made by an attorney. Should the attorney discover that the searches and seizures were improperly conducted or justified, evidence obtained from them may not be admitted by the court, and the prosecution may have to lower or drop the charges lodged against the individuals involved.