On Friday, the East Brunswick police announced they arrested a man and a woman who had been staying at the Hilton in East Brunswick, NJ, seizing 11 pounds of cocaine and 13 pounds of raw marijuana. The arrests were the result of an extensive investigation.
The two suspects were charged with marijuana possession, cocaine possession, distribution of cocaine, and intent to distribute marijuana. They will face prosecution in Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick.
In the case described above, East Brunswick Police worked alongside Middlesex County Narcotics Task Force, Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit, and the Hilton’s security staff to conduct the raid of the hotel room.
The 4th Amendment provides protection against unreasonable search and seizure. In order to conduct a search of your home, the police must obtain a search warrant, with only a few exceptions including your consent to the search. Courts have consistently held that your 4th Amendment rights apply to hotel rooms as well and that only guests are able to consent to a search—not hotel staff or security.
So, if police want to search your hotel room, they are probably going to need a warrant, unless you give consent to the search or exigent circumstances apply. Exigent circumstances are when there is an emergency that requires the police to conduct the search without a warrant to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, the suspect’s imminent escape, or imminent destruction of evidence.
Now, let’s take a look at the charges these defendants are facing, which are very serious. Under New Jersey law, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute varies in degree depending on the amount of cocaine involved. Second degree possession with intent to distribute involves possession of between a half an ounce to five ounces. The penalties for second degree possession with intent to distribute include imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $150,000. First degree possession with intent to distribute requires possession of more than five ounces of cocaine and carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000.
As for marijuana distribution, possession of more than 5 pounds of marijuana but less than 25 pounds with intent to distribute is a second degree crime in New Jersey, whereas possession of 25 pounds or more of marijuana with intent to distribute is a first degree crime.
In order to be convicted of possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) with intent to distribute, the prosecution must, of course, prove that the defendant intended to distribute the drugs in their possession. Although not conclusive, there are several pieces of circumstantial evidence that can help to establish intent to distribute. These factors include having a high volume of drugs in your possession, indicating that you are selling the drugs rather than possessing them for personal use only. Finding packages and large amounts of money can also support a charge of distribution, as well as communications between the defendant and potential buyers. Notably, any of the evidence in a case is obtained through an unlawful search like a search of a hotel room without a search warrant, where no exceptions to the warrant requirement apply, then the evidence is inadmissible at trial.
East Brunswick NJ Drug Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with drug offenses or any offenses related to a warrantless search of your hotel room in New Jersey, contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers to review your case and determine if your rights were violated. The Law Offices of William Proetta Criminal Law serves clients in East Brunswick, New Brunswick, and throughout Middlesex County, NJ. Contact our Edison office at (732) 659-9600 or send us a message to arrange a free consultation.