NEWARK – The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled today that police officers cannot conduct a warrantless search of a person’s home by unlawfully keeping him away to prevent him from objecting to the search.

In State v. Coles, Camden police detained Byseem Coles for his suspected involvement in a robbery. After the victim failed to identify Coles as the person involved, police officers continued to detain him in a police car outside of his residence, while officers went to the residence and convinced his aunt to consent to a search of Coles’s room. At the time, Coles paid rent for a room in his aunt’s home.

The following statement is from Alexander Shalom, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of New Jersey.

“Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court reaffirmed in State v. Byseem Coles the fundamental principle that our homes have the highest constitutional privacy protections and that police officers may not conduct warrantless home searches without meeting strict requirements. In this case, polices officers unlawfully held a suspect a few blocks away from his home while convincing his aunt to let them search his room, even though they did not have a warrant. The Court found the search unconstitutional and made clear that police officers may not physically keep someone away from their home to avoid having that person object to a search. The Court also reaffirmed that police stops on the street have a tremendous impact on New Jerseyans privacy interests and police cannot detain people on the street without consequence.”