Union County, with its 21 municipalities, covers an important part of New Jersey and is intersected by 14 different major highways coming in, out, and across the state from nearby counties. It is also adorned by eight waterways, including Elizabeth and Rahway Rivers, along which sprawl the county’s dozens of parks and greenbelts. The county boasts one of the top three highest populations in the state, and although the county has an overall high safety rating, crime rates vary from place to place, with the eastern part of the county more prone to crime than the northern part. Crimes like assault, robbery, sexual assault, and murder take up a large portion of the violent crimes throughout the county but property crimes, like theft, burglary, arson, and vehicle theft run high throughout the county. Kidnapping, identity theft, and drug crimes are also more prevalent than violent crimes. With Goethals Bridge connecting New York’s Staten Island to the state of New Jersey, and cities like Rahway, which connect New Jersey and New York residents with a cultural and arts hub of the county, Union County has a fluid influx of people from neighboring counties and states. With so much traffic into the county, it should not come as a big surprise that Union County Superior Court brims with criminal cases originated by traffic stops.
Why People Get Arrested After Being Pulled Over in Union County Towns
Drive the highways of New Jersey long enough and you are bound to be stopped by an officer for a broken taillight, speeding, illegal lane changes, or other traffic violations. It is often at these stops when other crimes come to light. For example, if you are driving with a suspended license, the police officer will find out almost immediately as they run your license through the state computer system. If you had a DUI and are driving with a license that has been suspended, the officer can quickly discover that also. A minor traffic violation can then turn into an arrest for criminal or DWI charges.
Police stops for minor traffic infractions are often the source of investigations for other crimes. For example, a police officer driving behind you notices that your registration is expired. But even before that, the police might see your car out of all other vehicles if your vehicle is old, dirty, banged up or new, sporty, fast, and red. An out-of-state license plate also draws notice. So, when the police notice your car and then your expired registration, you are likely to be pulled over. Once they detain you, they may ask you questions about your registration while they examine your license and insurance, maybe run your plates. It may be then that they discover you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest; perhaps you knew about or perhaps you did not know about it. Either way, you are going to be arrested, and your car possibly impounded.
It may also be the time when the police notice you look nervous, suspicious, or like a crime suspect. The police may ask you about where you are going and where you came from or even to search your car if they suspect you may be purchasing, distributing, or trafficking drugs or carrying guns. For instance, they may see suspected heroin, cocaine, or another type of CDS or look at your behavior and suspect you are under the influence of drugs. In that case, they may deduce that you also have drugs on your person or in your car. They may tell you to get out of your vehicle for a sobriety test or request permission to search your vehicle. If they then find drugs or unlawfully possessed guns or other weapons, you are arrested and taken to the police station or county jail. Even if you refuse to consent to a search of the vehicle, they can search your car if there is crime evidence in plain view of the officer, like drug paraphernalia in the center console or passenger seat of the vehicle.
What Charges Can a Car Search and Seizure Lead to in New Jersey?
Once an officer searches your vehicle, you may be charged with multiple crimes, depending on what they find. If they find drugs, you could be charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) like cocaine, heroin, or fentanyl. If the amount appears to be more than what you would possess for personal consumption, you could be charged with possessing CDS to distribute especially if other items, such as scales, pipes, or bags, are also found in the vehicle or in the trunk. Having drug paraphernalia on your person or in your car is a separate charge from possession or distribution. If they find a weapon, you could be charged with illegally possessing a firearm. If the gun is not secured and locked away, you may be arrested for illegally transporting a gun.
And if you are a passenger, you may also be charged with illegally possessing a firearm, drugs, or drug paraphernalia. If you seem to be aware of the presence of guns or drugs, meaning the illicit items were in plain view, or you acted nervously when the police detained the driver, you are often presumed guilty of the same charges or conspiracy to distribute drugs or commit other crimes. And if you are taken to the police station after they find drugs on your person, you may be charged with CDS possession. They may also find that you too have an outstanding warrant for your arrest for a prior missed court date or other reason.
To Avoid an Unfortunate Outcome to Your Arrest While Driving, Find a Union County NJ Lawyer Near You Who Routinely Handles Criminal and DUI Cases.
For each charge, whether driver or passenger, you may be charged with a fourth, third, second, or first degree crime, each carrying a separate prison sentence and fine. Cumulatively, you could be in for a long prison stay with huge fines. Disorderly persons offenses are also common after motor vehicle stoppages, and people are charged with DWI/DUI virtually everyday. Our local criminal defense attorney not only knows the laws and typical mistakes police make in police work, especially vehicle stops, but they also know the in’s and out’s of effective defenses for particular charges and how to handle cases in the courthouse where your matter will be handled. That can be a sizable advantage when your lawyer can tell you what the judge and prosecutor tend to do with cases like yours. Find an experienced Union County criminal defense lawyer to represent you, so you can rest assured you can defend yourself, by contacting our office today. Call (908) 838-0150 anytime you need a free legal consultation about an arrest in Union County, New Jersey.