The NJ Supreme Court recently decided State v Privott. The holding is pretty interesting. Basically, the court held that when an officer has the right to conduct a “Terry” pat-down search for weapons, i.e. the officer has reason to suspect that the suspect may have weapons, the officer does not have the right to lift up the suspects shirt and circumvent the traditional pat-down requirement to recover evidence.
This does not mean that the officer can’t recover evidence that he suspects may be a weapon following a legal frisk. However,under “normal circumstance”, the law enforcement officer does not have the right to forgo the pat-down to determine whether the suspect may be armed and jump directly to a more obtrusive search. In this circumstance “the search exceeded the scope of the pat-down search needed to protect the officer against defendant having a weapon and was akin to a generalized cursory search of defendant that is not condoned.”
For the full text of the decision please see State v Privott