Drug paraphernalia possession charges have serious consequences, and New Jersey’s wide-reaching drug paraphernalia law can result in criminal charges for possessing otherwise legal items. If you have found yourself facing drug paraphernalia possession charges, a New Jersey drug lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman has extensive knowledge of potential defenses against drug paraphernalia possession charges, as well as defenses against drug charges, which often go hand-in-hand. Our attorneys work hard to craft the best defense strategy for each defendant’s charges and situation.
Possible Defense: Civil Rights Violations
All Americans are entitled to their civil rights, even when being arrested. If your arrest, or events leading up to your arrest, involved an illegal violation of your civil rights, you may be able to get charges dismissed.
Civil rights violations include:
- Illegal search and seizure - when the actions leading up to the discovery of the alleged drug paraphernalia did not take place in a legal manner (such as police lacking an appropriate search warrant)
- Coercion or intimidation - when law enforcement authorities overstep the legal bounds of acceptable behavior during questioning or arrest
- Entrapment - when law enforcement intentionally induces an offender to commit a crime
Possible Defense: Legal Use of the Objects
Paraphernalia objects are often objects that are legally produced and sold. What makes them illegal paraphernalia is that the objects are being used for illegal drug-related purposes. If you can demonstrate that the paraphernalia was not being used for an illegal purpose but rather a legal purpose, you have a strong defense against a drug paraphernalia possession charge.
Penalties for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Under New Jersey law, use or possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia is considered a disorderly persons offense. For heroin, cocaine or certain other controlled dangerous substances, the possible penalties you face can include up to six months in jail and up to $1000 in fines. Even beyond this, a criminal record can cause various problems for you when trying to get a job, rent a home or obtain certain licenses. That said, you do not want to attempt to handle the charges on your own -- let a New Jersey drug lawyer at our firm fight for your rights. Please note that the laws regarding marijuana and hashish have recently changed and small amounts are no longer illegal.
Alternative Sentencing Programs in New Jersey
There has been a movement within New Jersey’s criminal justice system to treat addiction as an illness rather than a crime in recent years. This has resulted in the development and growth of treatment-focused alternative sentencing programs, in which defendants who successfully participate in a court-approved treatment program can have charges dropped and/or sentences shortened for their drug crime charges.
These programs include:
- The Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) - Offenders are required to fulfill certain conditions, such as completing a drug abuse treatment program and are strictly monitored. If the PTI is successfully completed, charges are dismissed.
- Conditional Discharge - The Conditional Discharge program is offered for minor drug-related crimes, including possession of drug paraphernalia. Offenders must pass drug tests and not get arrested. If completed successfully, charges are discharged.
The Stakes Are High - Work With a New Jersey Drug Lawyer
Unlike drug charges, drug paraphernalia possession charges cannot be plea bargained. This makes it extremely important that you know of all defenses and approaches you could take to defend against drug paraphernalia possession charges. A skilled New Jersey drug lawyer can help you navigate the applicable defenses and fight your charges.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending against drug and drug paraphernalia charges, as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.