By: Dee Wampler

   In a recent case a drug trafficking search warrant included the search of “all persons present” on a no-knock search warrant. The warrant included searching for drugs as well as “all persons present reasonably believed to be connected to said property and investigation.”

   As police arrived a car left the location but was stopped one block later. Two persons were removed from the vehicle and 35 bags of cocaine was found on each one. Neither of the officers could testify as to seeing the car leave the house but informants indicated that the car had been at the house and the driver had been inside the house moments before. The court held that the warrant did not provide authority of the search of the “off-premises individuals”1

    Other courts have upheld an “all persons present” warrant. The question turns on whether or not there is “good enough reason to suspect or to believe that anyone present at the anticipated scene will probably be a participant in the criminal operation.”2

    This is a tough case showing the need for law officers to provide “the necessary factual link to support that defendant had left the premises as the search was unfolding.”

    If the suspect was “beyond the immediate vicinity of the premises to be searched,”3 then the courts limit the right of officers to detain individuals to only those persons in the “immediate vicinity of the place to be searched.”

    Simply put, officers must provide an “adequate evidentiary basis linking defendant’s presence to the location for which the all-persons-present search warrant was issued.”


1  State vs. Bivens, A2d (NJ 2016) (Lower court opinion 4365 NJ super. 519 (NJ App. 2014).
2  State vs. De Simone, 60 NJ 310 (1972).
3  Bailey vs. U.S., 133 S.C. 1031 (2013); Steele vs. U.S., 267 U.S. 498 (1925).