To learn more about the different kinds of drug possession defenses in New Jersey, read on and give our experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyers. We are on your side.
What are the different types of drug possession defenses in New Jersey?
Unlawful Search and Seizure
Recognize that the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives citizens defense from the government. Under only distinct cases is it legal for officers to investigate a person’s body or property. Search and seizure challenges occur often in drug possession defense cases.
Illicit drugs discovered in “plain view,” may be seized and used as proof in a drug case. An example of plain view might be drugs or drug paraphernalia on a car’s dashboard while an officer conducts a legal traffic stop. Another instance would be a marijuana field that is visible from a plane’s point of view.
Keep in mind the possibility that an officer opens a car’s trunk, without permission, and finds drugs. Or, if a low-flying drone is flown over a precise location and photographs a hidden marijuana field. These are a few instances of probes that would be illegal without a search warrant.
If authorities discover proof via illegal methods, the court will ban that evidence at trial. Because the evidence found in an illegal search is often widely essential to the prosecution’s case, the government will often drop its case if police disregarded your Fourth Amendment rights.
Drugs Belong to Someone Else
Criminal defendants facing drug charges often want to assert that the drugs do not belong to them, or that they had no idea the drugs were in their possession. However, this might not be as strong of an argument as you might believe.
Police do not always have to find drugs on your body or directly in your possession in order for you to be convicted on drug possession charges. Instead, prosecutors must usually only show that you had control of or access to the drugs.
At trial, a defense attorney might argue that there is a reasonable doubt that you knew about the drugs. However, this can be problematic if, for instance, a passenger in your car was using drugs just before or at the time of your arrest. That is why it is a good idea to always speak to a criminal defense lawyer before you make any assertions or statements to the police.
Chain of Custody Problems
Another drug possession defense is that the drugs are missing. Once drugs are taken during an arrest or upon execution of a search warrant, police typically keep them in an evidence room or locker. At trial, a defense attorney can ask whether the drugs offered as evidence are in fact the ones taken from the defendant (and not from a separate case).
This is usually known as an attack on the chain of custody. Other chains of custody attacks involve the charge that one of the officers who handled the drugs throughout the course of an investigation did so improperly. The chance that such a tactic will prevail depends on how many officers handled the drugs, and how well the police create and keep records of such activity.
Contact our Firm
The dedicated and compassionate attorneys at Vigilante Law Firm, P.C. would be happy to provide you with assistance in your case and help you protect your future when so much is on the line. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.