Facing Criminal Charges From the Path
Millions of people use mass transit in New Jersey every year, and one of the most popular mass transit systems used by residents of Hudson County is the PATH rail system that runs between northeastern NJ and New York City. Unfortunately, the popularity of the PATH also makes it a common site for criminal activity, arrests, and criminal charges of all kinds. There is even a special law enforcement agency, the Port Authority Police Department, that exclusively patrols and enforces the law at Port Authority facilities, including PATH terminals and trains. When a Port Authority officer sees something that warrants further investigation, or when they are directed to investigate after receiving a report from a passenger, it often results in an arrest. Sometimes, innocent people also get swept up by overzealous police officers who are on patrol and take an “arrest now, ask questions later” approach to their jobs. Keep reading to learn more about what happens when you are arrested at a PATH station in New Jersey and what to do next.
What Is the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (Path)?
The Port Authority Trans-Hudson, or PATH, is a transit system that connects several major northeastern New Jersey cities, including Harrison, Jersey City, and Hoboken. The trains run 24 hours a day, providing service to 13 different stations in two states. The PATH rail system is also a quick and easy way for NJ residents to commute to New York for work during the week, since there are multiple terminals in Manhattan. On a typical weekday, nearly 300,000 passengers use the PATH system, and another 200,000 passengers travel on PATH trains during a normal weekend. Over the course of an entire year, more than 80 million passengers use the PATH.
Who Patrols and Arrests People on the Path
With so many people traveling on PATH trains, there is occasionally the need for law enforcement to get involved to deal with possible criminal incidents. There is also a jurisdictional issue, since the PATH service travels between two states. That’s why PATH relies on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, or the Port Authority Police Department, to patrol terminals and trains. The Port Authority Police Department has its headquarters located in Jersey City, and there is a Central Police Desk at the Journal Square train terminal that functions as the department’s communications hub. The police department also has access to video surveillance technology that allows officers to monitor all PATH train stations.
When necessary, Port Authority police officers will investigate reports of suspicious activity and make arrests. Police officers on patrol receive reports about disturbances and other issues on trains via radio transmissions from the Journal Square communications network. Police will then investigate and make a determination about whether further action needs to be taken. Sometimes, Port Authority Police determine that the suspect should be placed under arrest.
What Could Get You Arrested at a Path Station or on a Path Train
Some of the most common reasons that people get arrested at a PATH station or on a PATH train include the following:
Possessing Drugs on a Path Train
One of the most frequently charged crimes at the PATH station is for illegal drug possession involving heroin, cocaine, or prescription drugs. This is because the Port Authority Police Department has its own K-9 Narcotics Detection Unit, with drug-sniffing dogs routinely patrolling PATH trains and terminals.
Assault Accusations at a Path Station
One of the primary responsibilities of Port Authority Police is to ensure the safety of passengers on PATH trains. When a passenger is violently assaulted or otherwise attacked, officers are expected to intervene, conduct a preliminary investigation, and possibly arrest the attacker. A violent physical attack could result in felony charges for aggravated assault, and even minor physical contact or merely threatening words could lead to charges for simple assault.
Theft or Robbery While Riding the Path
Theft is a very big problem on the PATH transit system, particularly during the weekday rush hour when terminals and trains are packed with thousands of passengers at once. Pickpockets are known to target victims on crowded trains during the day, and other types of thefts and robberies can happen at terminals during the late-night hours when fewer witnesses are present. Robbery is the more serious of these charges, as it integrates a violent or threatening aspect that a typical theft crime does not.
Gun Possession Charges at the Path
One of the most serious criminal charges in New Jersey is for unlawful possession of a weapon, particularly when the offense involves illegal possession of a handgun. After 9/11, Port Authority Police increased their efforts to combat terrorism, with a particular emphasis being placed on identifying passengers with guns, explosives, and other devices that might be used as weapons. If you are arrested and charged with a gun crime, you are likely to face significant prison time because of the state’s extremely tough gun laws.
Alleged Sex Offenses on the Path Railway
Sex crimes are another major problem on the PATH system, with individuals occasionally committing offensive acts such as indecent exposure. NJ law criminalizes this kind of conduct, and anyone accused of exposing themselves in view of someone else at a PATH station or on a PATH train can be charged with lewdness. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the charge may be classified as a felony that carries prison time, as well as a requirement to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.
Port Authority Police Find Outstanding Warrants for Path Passengers
If you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest, you can be arrested by Port Authority Police even when you didn’t actually commit a crime at a PATH station. Police officers on patrol often investigate suspicious activity and individuals, and this may involve officers running a computer check on the person they are investigating. If police learn that you have an outstanding arrest warrant, they are likely to detain you and then place you under arrest. Additionally, it won’t matter if the warrant was for unpaid parking tickets, failure to appear in court, or it was due to a technical error – you should still expect to be arrested by Port Authority Police before being transferred to the jurisdiction where the original offense allegedly occurred.
Need a Lawyer for Arrest at the Path Station in Hudson County NJ
Were you arrested by Port Authority Police while waiting in a PATH terminal or while riding on a PATH train? Do you now face criminal charges for an incident that allegedly occurred on the PATH? If so, it is critically important that you get in touch with a dedicated criminal defense lawyer right away. Many times, criminal charges stemming from an incident at a PATH station are classified as felonies and carry severe penalties, including possible incarceration. You need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the Hudson County criminal courts and who understands the criminal process for people arrested on the PATH system. Depending on the precise charges you face and the facts of your case, it may be possible for a knowledgeable lawyer to help you beat the charges and avoid jail or prison.
With decades of combined experience, our Hudson County criminal defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law have established a lengthy track record of successes in Hudson County courtrooms, where we tirelessly defend clients on a weekly basis. Whether it be resisting arrest, obstruction of law, assault, terroristic threats, drug charges, an illegal weapon, disorderly conduct, or another charge that you face after being arrested on the PATH or at a PATH station, we can help. If you are in need of a free consultation about your pending criminal charges, we invite you to contact our Jersey City office at (201) 793-8018 for immediate assistance.