Charged With Possessing Drugs
The most common type of drug charge is one involving possession as compared to distribution of drugs. There is literally a laundry list of controlled dangerous substances (“CDS”) that can result in possession charges including more popular ones like marijuana, heroin, mollie/MDNA, and prescription drugs. With the exception of marijuana cases involving less than 50 grams, almost all arrests involving someone accused of possessing CDS result in indictable felony crimes, typically of the third degree. Police have ramped efforts to curb illegal possession of all drugs through increased law enforcement surveillance, new drug rehabilitation diversion programs, and early drug education in our schools. If you possess drugs and are caught, you face many potential sanctions although our experienced attorneys often achieve amazing results in cases like yours. This shouldn’t be so shocking given the experienced of our lawyers, many of whom are former prosecutors, and the resources our firm can offer as one of the largest criminal defense firms in the state. Call our Newark Office if you are seeking a free consultation regarding your possession offense.
What Are The Typical Elements of a Possession Case? There are generally three (3) elements that must be established by a prosecutor in order to obtain a conviction. First, your conduct must have been knowing or purposeful; essentially meaning that you intended to have the drug/cds. Second, the possession must be actual, constructive or joint. Third, the substance possessed must have been illegal to possess without a prescription or otherwise.
Actual Possession. Actual possession occurs when a person physically controls, holds, or houses the illicit materials. This does not require the court to consider the surrounding circumstances. Maintaining physical control of the substance will suffice for a possession charge. Unfortunately, the old excuse that you were just holding it for a friend is no defense in a court of law.
Constructive Possession. Constructive possession is determined by the court based upon the person’s conduct in relation to the CDS. A person constructively possesses a drug when they are able to exercise current and almost immediate control by direct or indirect means in a manner that would affect the item during the time in question. Simple presence where the drugs, contraband, or illicit materials are found is not sufficient to establish constructive possession. Drugs found in an automobile often result in a constructive possession situation. If the drugs are in plain view in the vehicle and an individual is aware of their presence, constructive possession is likely established. However, the drugs do not need to be in plain view for constructive possession to apply. Furthermore, police and courts are permitted to infer a person’s knowledge of the drug’s presence from the circumstances surrounding the situation.
Joint Possession. Courts will determined whether joint possession (possession by another individual when they will be shared with another) exists based upon the circumstances surrounding the situation. Factors that the court will consider include: the relationship of the individuals, whether they maintain a commercial or personal relationship, statements made by the persons involved, conduct of the persons involved, whether the parties traveled together, whether they pooled money or resources, the amount of drugs or illicit substances involved, and whether one party had sole possession of the drugs. Based upon these considerations, courts can find that a person is guilty of possession of a CDS without ever having actual or physical control over the drugs.
Types of Drug Possession Our Firm Handles
Our firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, defends all types of possession of CDS charges. The following are the more common drugs which we deal with:
- Possession of Marijuana
- Possession of Heroin
- Possession of Cocaine
- Possession of Prescription Drugs
- Possession of MDNA
Penalties That Apply To Possession Charges
Except possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, virtually all illegal drug possession is a third degree crime. Third degree crimes are, as previously stated, indictable offenses that constitute a felony in New Jersey. Persons convicted of a third degree possession charge face a range of criminal penalties including: between three (3) and five (5) years in prison, up to a $15,000 fine, community service, participation in a drug diversion program, and possible participation in a supervised release program. There is also a mandatory driver’s license suspension of 6 months to 2 years that applies in all possession cases.
It is clearly in anyone who has been charged with possession of CDS to seek the advice of a skilled defense attorney. The lawyers at our firm can serve this purpose and welcome the chance to answer your questions and discuss how we can assist you further. We are available for free consultation 24/7 at 973-710-1520.