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Constitutionally protected privacy interests are enshrined in the 4th Amendment protection against warrantless searches and seizures as well as Article I, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey State Constitution. One key exception to the warrant requirement, as well as the requirement for probable cause precedent to the execution of a search, is voluntary consent knowingly waived by a party with authority to search. For a person to be considered a valid third party that can consent to a search of property he or she must meet a few requirements:

·         The area being searched is shared with the suspect and the third party.

·         The third party has control over the shared area- i.e., they have a key to such areas or their name is listed on the lease.

The Fourth Amendment of the constitution protects people from unreasonable search and seizures, but the law is not as clear-cut in some particular circumstances.  One grey area in search and seizure law involves searches conducted at student housing owned by colleges.  College campuses are unique in that they create their own set of laws and policies that their students need to abide by while attending the school. Universities generally have very strict policies, including rules that could be seen as infringing on the students 4th Amendment rights.  Is it reasonable for universities to be able to conduct warrantless search and seizures on campus living facilities? The 4th Amendment protects people from unreasonable search and seizures, but is it considered reasonable for universities to be able to conduct random searches of students living on campus? There are two primary means by which universities may bypass a students Fourth Amendment right:

1.      Courts deem attending a university and residing in a school owned building as a voluntary waiver to follow the university polices and laws. Student routinely sign contracts consenting to random searches by school officials when living in a school owned facility.

2.      The University’s inherent duty to keep the student’s facilities safe with inspections, i.e. checking fire alarms systems give schools a regulatory exemption to conduct warrantless searches.

Although shoplifting is widely thought of as a petty offense and is generally associated with troublesome adolescents or teenagers, it can be a serious crime under Title 2c of the New Jersey Criminal Code, that can carry significant consequences. In the state of New Jersey, shoplifting under N.J.S.A. 2c:20-11, is a somewhat broadly defined offense that, if committed, can result in punishments as minimal as community service and as severe as multiple years in prison, not to mention possible civil action. Shoplifting is categorized in six types of offenses, all of which can constitute charges ranging anywhere from a second-degree crime to a disorderly persons offense. There are certain requirements of proof the state has to deliver, and multiple defenses, some of which bode more effectively than others in shoplifting cases.

The term “shoplifting” is defined in full in N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11 as one of six acts. To be issued a charge of shoplifting, one of the six following actions are to have been accused.

(1)    Purposeful removal of merchandise from any merchant or vendor without payment of full retail value.

If charged with drug possession/Controlled Dangerous Substance (“CDS”) possession in a vehicle, the penalty may be severe.  In addition to fines which are upwards of $50.00, there is a mandatory two-year loss of license. This offense is almost always coupled with criminal drug charges such as N.J.S.A 2C:35:10(a)(4) – Marijuana Possession – and N.J.S.A 2C:36-2 – Drug Paraphernalia Possession.

The state must prove multiple elements to obtain a conviction for N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1 Possession of CDS in a motor vehicle. These elements include:

·         Driver operated a motor vehicle

In New Jersey, a request for consent to perform a search is a commonly used tactic by police, especially in drug/controlled dangerous substance and firearms cases. Receiving consent may permit law enforcement to search your personal property, car, even your home without a warrant. Per the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution and  Article I, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution, a warrant or probable cause is necessary for law enforcement to be able to execute a search. Consent searches are a way for law enforcement to get around the warrant requirement, but are problematic in several respects.  

Who is the appropriate party to grant consent to search the property? What is the scope of the consent? Can the police pressure someone into consenting? What is the potential to have any evidence obtained by the police, i.e. weapons, drugs, tossed out of court or suppressed if the consent given to search was not valid?

The Fourth Amendment requires that consent for a search must be voluntarily given and not the result of duress or coercion.  The New Jersey Supreme Court in State v King listed multiple factors in gauging whether the consent was voluntary such as:

On Wednesday, January 25, amidst a bevy of executive orders, President Trump signed one particular order promising to withhold federal dollars from “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The order, which according to the White House Briefing Room, is officially titled Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, states that “the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, by no later than one year after the date of the executive order, ensure that sanctuary jurisdictions are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary.”

To unpack the provisions of this order, one must first consider the meaning of a “sanctuary city,” as defined by the president’s administration, legal scholars, and immigration officials. Since the term does not necessarily have a set definition, it is important to consider all perspectives. The executive order, for one, leaves it to the secretary of Homeland Security to designate “sanctuary jurisdictions” based on whether they allow local officials to share people’s immigration status with the federal government.

Based on a 1996 law prohibiting localities from withholding such information, the Trump administration believes sanctuary cities to be clear violators of the law. But, long before the issuance of the executive order, there has been much contention surrounding these claims. According to Barry Friedman, a constitutional law scholar who runs the Policing Project at NYU, “The federal government can’t demand that state officials or local officials do their work.”

President-elect Trump’s hardline statements on immigration, which are often peppered with shifting details, have left millions of Americans uncertain about their future status in the U.S. More than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children are protected currently by Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), established by President Obama, and another four to five million were eligible for protection under a similar program for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents.  Many of these families’ information could be stored in federal systems, allowing for targeted removal under the Trump administration.

Below are two of the less discussed areas where some of the national debate over immigration policy may take place under the soon-to-be President Trump:

Sanctuary Cities:

Last month, in the wake of the terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market, President-elect Donald Trump was asked by reporters if he was rethinking or reevaluating his plans to establish a registry for Muslim immigrants and temporarily ban Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.  The President-elect responded to the press’ inquiries, saying “You know my plans all along,” then went onto say that the recent attack, for which the Islamic State later claimed responsibility, had vindicated his proposed ban.

Muslims and advocates across the country have expressed anxiety at not quite knowing what Trump means when he says “Muslim ban.”  A year ago on the campaign trail, Trump said he wanted a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United Stated until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”  Later, Trump and his senior aide sought to soften the proposal, suggesting that he would support a ban on immigration only from countries that has been “compromised by terrorism.”  Six months ago in a “Meet the Press” interview, when asked whether he has rolled back his calls for a Muslim ban, Trump responded saying he had viewed it instead as an expansion of his initial proposal.  Today, the statement proposing a “complete shutdown of Muslim immigration remains on Trump’s website and the President-elect has yet to clarify how exactly he would address the issue as President.

Furthermore, senior Trump aide, Kellyanne Conway, stated that Mr. Trump would not seek to ban an immigrant based on religion, but rather would seek a ban pertaining to “what he said later about it when he made it much more specific and talked about countries where we know they have a higher propensity of training and exporting and in some cases harboring terrorists.”  Such mixed messages have left Muslim community leaders puzzled and apprehensive.  While many people have interpreted the Muslim ban as an intention on Trump’s part to revive the NSEERS system, the Bush-era registry used to track Muslims and Arabs, which was dismantled by President Obama, others believe the ban could involve more severe repercussions. 

On December 12 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (“DOE”) announced that it is no longer recognizing the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting agency.  This decision affects more than 16,000 international students in the United Stated attending nearly 130 Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools and programs that are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

While most SEVP-certified schools are not required to obtain accreditation and may provide evidence in lieu of accreditation, there are two major instances, both involving immigrant students, when it is required:

  1. Accreditation is required for all English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, per the Accreditation of English Language and Training Programs Act. This act states that all ESL programs must possess accreditation by a regional or national accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is removing regulations relating to an obsolete special registration program created after 9/11 to track noncitizen men from predominantly Muslim countries.  NSEERS, which DHS has not used since 2011, has for many years been deemed redundant, used to capture data manually that was already captured through automated systems, nonetheless the structure has remained intact until now.  The program has been discontinued, for these reasons and for reasons pertaining to NSEERS’ inability to provide a discernible public benefit, as the program no longer provides an increase in security in light of DHS’s evolving assessment of the threat posed to the United States by international terrorism. 

In August 2002, less than a year after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) finalized the proposed program to require designated nonimmigrants to be fingerprinted and photographed and to provide additional biographical information.  The rule also authorized INS to designate certain ports of departure for nonimmigrants subject to the program.  The following months, INS announced by way of a Federal Register notice, that the new program would be applied to those who were subject to the earlier registration program (first established in 1991)—nonimmigrants from Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Sudan—and added nonimmigrants from Syria.  Between November 2002 and January 2003, INS added another 20 countries to the compliance list, bring the total to 25 countries.

Once the responsibility for administering NSEERS was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003 as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, DHS determined that automatically requiring 30-day and annual re-registration for designated nonimmigrants was no longer necessary.  Leading up to 2011, DHS began to utilize a more tailored system in which they would notify nonimmigrants subject to the program to appear for re-registration interviews where DHS deemed it necessary to determine whether they were complying with the conditions of their status and admission.

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