According to the police, Passaic man, Clifton Battle, was arrested Monday after allegedly breaking into Noches de Colombia, a Colombian restaurant, at 3:00am. Battle is accused of stealing the cash register drawer, with all of the cash inside of it. Specifically, Battle allegedly broke a glass door in the back of the restaurant, took the drawer, emptied the money out of the drawer, tossed the empty drawer in a neighboring apartment building's garbage, and then entered said building where he resides.
After finding the cash register drawer in the garbage, the police investigated the corresponding apartment building complex. Upon entering the apartment building, the police observed money in the building's hallway. The police assert that the money trail of dollar bills literally led the police to Battle's door. The police knocked on the door and a woman answered the door.
It is unknown how the police justified the entry, obtained consent, or what probable cause and exigency led the police to enter the apartment, however; upon entry, the police found Battle with cash in his pockets. It is also unknown if a Search Warrant was obtained. These are crucial facts which should be documented by the police and reviewed by an attorney during the Discovery process. If the police did not have probable cause to enter the apartment, any/all evidence obtained thereafter should be barred from evidence pursuant to the well-known "fruit of the poisonous tree" Doctrine under the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution and New Jersey precedent.
No further details are currently known, but Mr. Battle was charged with theft, burglary, and possession of drug paraphernalia. In order for Battle to be found guilty of these charges, the State must prove all elements of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
Burglary, 2C:18-2. A person is guilty of burglary if, with purpose to commit an offense therein or thereon he:
(1) Enters a research facility, structure, or a separately secured or occupied portion thereof unless the structure was at the time open to the public or the actor is licensed or privileged to enter;
(2) Surreptitiously remains in a research facility, structure, or a separately secured or occupied portion thereof knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so; or
(3) Trespasses in or upon utility company property where public notice prohibiting trespass is given by conspicuous posting, or fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.
Generally, burglary is a 3rd degree crime.
Burglary is a 2nd degree crime if in the course of committing the offense, the actor:
(1) Purposely, knowingly or recklessly inflicts, attempts to inflict or threatens to inflict bodily injury on anyone; or
(2) Is armed with or displays what appear to be explosives or a deadly weapon.
Regarding Theft, Battle may be found guilty of Theft in the 4th degree, if the value is between $200-$500. Battle may be found guilty of Theft, Disorderly Persons Offense, if the value is less than $200.
Theft in the 4th degree carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison. A Disorderly Persons Offense of Theft carries a penalty of up to 6 months in jail.
Lastly, regarding the alleged possession of drug paraphernalia, relevantly, N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2 states:
It shall be unlawful for any person to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled dangerous substance, controlled substance analog or toxic chemical in violation of the provisions of chapter 35 of this title. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.
Potential ramifications for violating this Statute include suspension of his/her driver's license up to 2 years, fines, and/or up to 6 months in jail, with potentially more if combined with other crimes, such as those alleged in this case.
If you would like to discuss this blog with me further, contact me anytime at Matthew@jtlaw.org