May I Come In?: N.J. Supreme Court Approves Warrantless DEP Searches of Residential Property Subject to Freshwater Wetlands Permit

In a unanimous decision that was at once sweeping and limited, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) need not obtain a warrant before entering a residential parcel to ensure compliance with the terms of a wetlands permit. The Court stopped short of a blanket validation of all warrantless searches under the wetlands statute, or of all warrantless searches of residential property subject to any sort of permit, instead grounding its holding in the protections afforded by the process that DEP must follow, and limiting it to searches of properties that are subject to a wetlands permit.