Two Eatontown residents, a 18-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man, are facing criminal charges following a stakeout conducted by police. Officers established themselves in view of Oak Street and Raritan Avenue following a tip. Police allegedly witnessed the male exit a car driven by the female. Officers followed her. The man reportedly spent approximately 20 minutes in the area, then walked away. Officers also followed him until he climbed into the female’s vehicle.
Police stopped the car for an alleged traffic violation. They searched the car, reportedly finding $635 in cash and substances thought to be heroin and cocaine. Both occupants were arrested and charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession with intent to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute in a park. They are each being held on $25,000 bail.
This case is interesting in that it is not illegal to drop someone off, to pick them up later, or to stand around in a public area. To search a car, police need a search warrant or probable cause to believe that the people in the car were committing a crime. A tip from an unidentified informant can only be used to establish probable cause if the information of criminal activity is independently corroborated by police investigation.
An experienced criminal defense attorney in this type of situation may be able to challenge the traffic stop, the validity of the search following that stop, or both. If police did not have a warrant or a valid exception prior to searching the car, it may be possible to suppress the evidence.
Source: Asbury Park Press, “Two face drug charges in Keansburg,” April 26, 2013