NJ Court: Police Can Arrest Man Who Answered Door While Smoking Marijuana

A person who answers the door while smoking marijuana can be arrested without a warrant, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled this week.

The case took place in 2008, when four Newark policemen planned to go undercover to arrest a drug dealer in a public housing project. The man answered the door while smoking marijuana. The officers pushed their way into the apartment, arrested the man and seized packs of marijuana, cocaine and heroin, NJ.com reports.

The court ruled the man, Rashad Walker, committed a disorderly persons offense in the hallway of a public housing building, “where the officers have a right to be.”

Walker served half of his six-year sentence before being paroled last year, the article notes. He argued he should have been protected from unreasonable search and seizure of his home under the Fourth Amendment.

In order to enter a home without a warrant, police need to show “probable cause” and “exigent circumstances.” Judge Ariel Rodriguez wrote that if no one had come to the door, the smell of marijuana alone would not have justified a forced entry into the home.

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