STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. ROBERT L. EVANS A-0489-14T1
In this appeal, we consider the application of the "plain feel" exception to the warrant requirement, Minnesota v. Dickerson, 508 U.S. 366, 113 S. Ct. 2130, 124 L. Ed. 2d 334 (1993); State v. Jackson, 276 N.J. Super. 626, 628 (App. Div. 1994), to a strip search that was conducted after defendant was arrested on a warrant for failing to pay a $6.50 traffic fine. In the absence of a warrant or consent, N.J.S.A. 2A:161A-1 prohibits a strip search of a person "detained or arrested for commission of an offense other than a crime" unless the search is based on probable cause and "a recognized exception to the warrant requirement." N.J.S.A. 2A:161A-1. Guidelines issued by the Attorney General's Office set forth even more exacting criteria to be satisfied before a strip search is conducted. We conclude the plain feel exception did not apply and, further, that the seizure of drugs from defendant's person was not objectively reasonable. We reverse defendant's convictions and remand for a hearing to determine whether the search of an automobile pursuant to a search warrant was sufficiently free of taint from the unlawful search and seizure.