The NJ Appellate Division last week ruled that a flight with a United States Coast Guard helicopter over an NJ home and cornfield was reasonable and acceptable under the NJ Constitution.
A Buena, New Jersey man was growing marijuana plants in the middle of his farm in southern New Jersey. A police informant notified local police that the man was producing a marijuana crop. The local police and NJ State Police asked the United States Coast Guard to fly them on a Coast Guard helicopter to get an aerial view of the reported marijuana crops. The police circled the farm in the helicopter at about 1000 feet then lowered to about 150 – 200 feet above the home and field. The police the found marijuana plants and arrested the NJ defendant.
In court, the defendant claimed that the search of his property was unreasonable under the NJ Constitution because the helicopter was flying too close to the ground and his home. The NJ defendant claimed that he had an expectation of privacy and that the police should not be flying helicopters low to the ground over homes and fields without a search warrant.
The NJ Appeals Court ruled against the NJ defendant and stated that the low flying search was reasonable under the NJ Constitution and that a warrant was not required.
Do you believe that this is good or bad law? Will this permit police helicopters to fly over our homes in constant search for wrongdoing? How far will police and the government take this case? Do you feel that our privacy rights have been violated?
See State of New Jersey v. Marolda here: State v. Marolda.pdf
The author of this Law Blog, Michael L. Saile, Jr., Esq. of Cordisco & Saile LLC, Attorneys-at-Law practices both New Jersey and Pennsylvania criminal, traffic violations, and DUI/DWI/DAI law. Check out our website for DUI penalties. We handle all NJ Municipal Court cases including DUI in the following NJ Municipal Courts: Hopewell Township, Ewing Township, Trenton, Lawrence Township, Hamilton, Pennington, and other Mercer County, Burlington County, and Camden County, NJ courts. We also handle lower bucks county DUI and traffic violation cases in the following towns: Bensalem, Southampton, Richboro, Newtown, Levittown, Langhorne, Doylestown, Warminster, Trevose, Feasterville, Warrington, Bristol, Fallsington, Yardley, New Hope, Holland, Washington Crossing, PA, and other Bucks County courts. We handle DUI cases in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery County, PA. We are located just outside of Philadelphia in lower Bucks County.