From possession of marijuana to distribution of methamphetamine, all drug charges carry substantial penalties under New Jersey law. If you have been charged, you need to take your case seriously, and you need to defend yourself by all means available. While there are several potential defenses to drug charges in New Jersey, the defenses you can assert will depend on the circumstances of your case. As a result, you will need to work with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to build a strong defense based on the specific facts at hand.
5 Potential Defenses to Drug Charges Under New Jersey Law
Defense strategies in drug crime cases range from disproving the prosecution’s allegations to showing that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights. Here are five examples of potential defenses to drug charges under New Jersey law:
1. Unconstitutional Search or Seizure
Under the Fourth Amendment, the police cannot conduct a search without reasonable suspicion, and they cannot seize evidence or make an arrest in the absence of probable cause. If the police stopped you on the street without justification, if they searched your home without a warrant (or other legal authority), or if they arrested you despite having insufficient evidence of guilt, then the prosecution’s evidence against you could be inadmissible in court. If the police improperly question you in violation of your rights, any evidence they recover as a result of your statement may be thrown out as it is “fruit of a poisonous tree.”
2. Lack of Ownership or Intent
Were you arrested for possession or another drug crime simply because you were in the presence of someone else’s drugs? Are you being accused of possession with intent to distribute (PWID) despite having no intent to sell? Challenging the prosecution’s evidence of ownership or intent can serve as a defense to several types of drug crimes under New Jersey law.
3. Entrapment, Valid Prescription or MMP Card, and Other Factual Issues
If you were set up by the police, you may be able to assert the defense of entrapment. If you have a valid prescription or Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) card, this could provide a defense to certain drug charges as well. Many different factual issues can provide defenses in New Jersey drug crime cases, and it will be important for you to discuss all of the details of your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
4. Insufficient Evidence of Guilt
If the prosecution’s evidence is lacking in any respect, then it does not matter whether you committed a drug crime. To secure a conviction, the prosecution must be able to prove your guilt with legally admissible evidence. If the prosecution cannot prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, you are entitled to walk free.
5. Seeking Entry Into a Drug Diversionary Program
Under New Jersey law, if you are a first-time offender, you may be able to avoid a conviction by participating in a diversionary program. If you are eligible for Pretrial Intervention (PTI), Conditional Discharge or Conditional Dismissal – and if you complete the program successfully, you will be able to keep your record clean.
Discuss Your Case with a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
To find out what defenses you can use to fight your drug charge, schedule an initial consultation at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. Call 877-435-6371 or contact us online to speak with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney in confidence as soon as possible.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in criminal defense 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.