How to Get a Possession Charge Dismissed in New Jersey
A person charged with possession usually finds themselves in a serious situation—one that can result in jail time, fines, or suspension of their driver’s license.
If you’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance, it’s important to know how you might be able to get those charged dismissed.
Do you need to know how to get a drug possession charge dismissed? The most common ways to beat a drug possession charge in New Jersey involve denial, insufficient evidence, illegal search issues, and statutory defenses. Keep reading to find out more about which defenses might apply to your case, or contact a drug charges defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio.
Defense #1: You Didn’t Commit the Crime
This type of defense applies when you’re charged with any crime. If you didn’t commit the crime, you should not be convicted. The prosecution has the burden of proving that you committed the crime, so this defense might come up under various circumstances. The following examples show how to beat a drug possession charge:
The drugs weren’t yours.
This defense is relatively simple. If the drugs weren’t yours, you didn’t commit the crime.
The drugs were planted.
This defense is difficult to raise because police testimony is highly trusted. Your attorney may be able to file a motion to release police files. These files may have information that would be useful in arguing that the drugs were planted.
You didn’t have constructive possession.
If the police didn’t find the drugs on your person, the prosecutor must show that you had actual control over the drugs.
Any evidence that the drugs may belong to someone else is helpful to argue against constructive possession.
For example, prosecutors might have a harder time proving constructive possession when multiple people live in the same house, or when police discover drugs in a car with multiple passengers.
Defense #2: Insufficient Evidence
The prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed illegal drugs. The prosecution’s evidence can fall short of this requirement. These examples show how to get a possession charge dismissed in a few different ways:
The substance wasn’t an illegal drug.
The prosecution needs to show that the substance they found is actually an illegal drug. For example, a bag of white powder might look like cocaine when, in reality, it’s only flour.
A crime lab analyst needs to verify that the substance is actually an illegal drug to satisfy this requirement.
The evidence has gone missing.
The prosecution will be hard-pressed to show that the substance found is an illegal drug if it is nowhere to be found.
Evidence is often transferred multiple times before it makes its way to a locker, and sometimes it goes missing.
The search was unlawful.
The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. In many cases, police need a warrant to conduct a lawful search.
A warrant isn’t always needed, though. Police can search for items and areas where a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if the drugs are in plain view, or a suspect gives police permission to search their car, the police can proceed to search without a warrant.
Entrapment is when a police officer pressures or induces someone to commit a crime they wouldn’t otherwise commit.
While entrapment isn’t exactly a “bad evidence” concern, it is one of bad police conduct.
In drug enforcement actions, police will set up undercover operations. Entrapment often occurs when the state provides the drugs in question.
Defense #3: Statutory Defenses
Another possible defense is that you are legally allowed to possess the controlled substance, or you fall under a legal exception.
You have a valid prescription
If you carry a valid prescription for a controlled substance, then your possession of that substance isn’t illegal.
In New Jersey, patients who carry a medical marijuana ID card are allowed to possess up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana per month.
This defense is never available on federal drug charges. However, if you’re being charged under state law, this defense might be available.
Good Samaritan Law
In 2013, New Jersey adopted the Overdose Prevention Act to help reduce overdoses and fatalities.
The law gives immunity to people who seek medical attention for themselves or on behalf of someone else in connection with a drug overdose. The immunity protects them from being arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for a drug offense.
Defend Yourself Against Drug Possession Charges with a Criminal Defense Attorney
Do you need to know more about how to get a possession charge dismissed? Beating a drug possession charge is no easy task. The best way to make sure you’re aware of every defense that might apply to your case is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Criminal defense attorneys use the defenses above and more to potentially reduce penalties or eliminate the charge altogether.
Contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio to schedule your free consultation.