NJ judge legally recognizes ‘friends with benefits’ protections

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New Jersey’s US District Judge Susan D. Wigenton has legally recognized “friends with benefits,” ruling they fall under Fourth Amendment protection after a man was caught with drugs at the home of his special friend, according to a legal declaration on FourthAmendment.com.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and sets requirements for issuing warrants. If there is no probable cause and a person is illegally searched, any evidence collected from the search will be excluded from evidence at trial. 

Najee Brantley was arrested — while clad in his undies, according to legal docs — on July 26, 2018, after being yanked from a bed in the home of a woman whom he had slept with one time before.

He arrived at Bahjane Reels’ dwelling for a hookup in the early morning and when police arrived a few hours later, they found a Gucci fanny pack containing 109 vials of heroin and a semi-automatic handgun, both of which were seized.

Brantley was charged with narcotics and firearms offenses, for which he already had several outstanding warrants. In 2015, he was arrested for selling heroin near a school and had felony convictions. Reels was arrested on “hindering apprehension charges.”

Paterson police had a warrant for Brantley’s arrest but did not have a warrant to search the home, according to the Daily Mail.

Wigenton made her landmark ruling on May 13, agreeing with the defense that Brantley’s “home” extended to the home of his friends with benefits and that Brantley’s lawyers have grounds to challenge the seizure.

“This court accepts that the defendant was more than a short-term guest at Ms. Reel’s apartment and thus had standing to challenge any subsequent warrantless search of his belongings,” Wigenton said. “To the extent that the Government suggests that the defendant’s ‘friends with benefits’ relationship categorically fails to merit the protection of an ‘overnight guest,’ this court disagrees.”

After all this fanfare, it might be time for the two to define their relationship. Meanwhile, check out the full rundown of this legal case via Berkeley Law professor Orin Kerr’s informative thread below:

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