If you are in possession of drugs or a dangerous weapon in New Jersey, the police may charge you with a crime. For example, you may be stopped on the street, pulled over for a traffic stop, or surprised when authorities arrive at your home with a search warrant. Regardless of the circumstances, if police find a pistol, marijuana, stolen property, or another illegal item during a search, you may be arrested. In fact, countless New Jersey residents and visitors are charged with criminal offenses related to contraband every year in our state. If you have been charged with criminal possession, it is critical to know and understand the meaning of these charges and the penalties you face. We urge you to contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible and to continue reading for more information about criminal possession in New Jersey. The Law Offices of William Proetta Criminal Law can be reached 24/7 at (848) 238-2100. Call now for a free consultation.
Understanding Illegal Possession Charges in New Jersey
Criminal charges associated with illegal possession in New Jersey include, but are not limited to:
- Possession of marijuana
- Possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS)
- Possession of a fake ID
- Possession of a firearm without a valid license
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Possession of a prohibited weapon or device
The above list is certainly not an exhaustive list of the wide variety of possession crimes in New Jersey. Notably, there are two different forms of possession that may lead to criminal charges in violation of NJ law. The first is called “actual possession” and the second is known as “constructive possession.”
Actual possession means exactly what it implies — you have possession on your person of an illegal item. As we explained above, the list of illegal items you may possess is quite extensive, including drugs, weapons, illegal paraphernalia, or stolen goods. The possession laws in New Jersey state that you have actual possession if:
- You understand the character of the item; and
- You knowingly have the item on your person
An example would be if you have a pistol or cocaine in your pocket when an officer performs a search.
Constructive possession is the crime that often takes people by surprise, especially the occupants of a vehicle. Under NJ possession laws, you must have knowledge of the item and control of the item. However, there is a reasonable presumption that you could have control of an item that is not “on your person.” For example, you could have knowledge of weapons and drugs in your home or in a vehicle in which you are a passenger, even though the items are not directly on your physical self. It is also conceivable that you could have knowledge of an item and intend to control the item through another person. Both of these situations constitute constructive possession.
Defending Against NJ Possession Charges
Constructive possession carries penalties that are just as severe as actual possession, so you must take steps to defend yourself against these criminal charges. Several defenses may be available depending on the circumstances of your case. For example, you could argue that your possession is “fleeting, passing, or uncertain.” You might argue that you do not have the ability to control the item even though you may have known about it. The key is to contact a criminal defense attorney who has experience handling possession charges in New Jersey. Your attorney will investigate the circumstances surrounding your arrest to determine if your legal rights were violated, or if the police officers made a mistake during the course of their investigation. The key to mounting a strong defense is to remain silent and contact an attorney immediately.
Criminal Possession Lawyers in Toms River, NJ
If you are facing criminal possession charges in Ocean County, New Jersey, contact our office today at (848) 238-2100 to speak with an attorney. Our criminal defense lawyers want to help you protect your legal rights by developing a defense strategy to give you the best chance of beating possession charges. With offices in Toms River, we serve clients in Manchester, Point Pleasant, Lacey Township, Brick, Lavallette, and throughout Ocean County.