The State of New Jersey is tough on drug crimes and has created an extensive list of drug offenses. With this broad scope of potential drug charges come numerous penalties for drug convictions. Penalties range from driver’s license suspensions to long-term jail time. If drugs are found in your car, this can equate to a possession charge, even if you aren’t the person in possession of the illegal substances.
Drug convictions are very serious, and a criminal record can impact your future ability to obtain a job or pass any background check. Contact the drug possession attorneys at the Breslow Law Offices for a free case evaluation. Our defense team will be with you every step of the way. We’ll evaluate your situation, examine possible drug possession defense strategies, and do our best to have your criminal case dismissed or criminal charges reduced. You can reach our Essex County office at 973-239-8000 or our Ocean County office at 609-494-8884.
Can a NJ Police Officer Search Your Car Without a Warrant?
Under your Fourth Amendment rights as outlined by the U.S. Constitution, individuals are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally, law enforcement officers in New Jersey must obtain a search warrant or have probable cause before searching an individual’s property, but there is an exception noted under state law for motor vehicles.
In 2015 the state gave authorization to law enforcement officers to be lawfully allowed to conduct a warrantless search of a “readily mobile” vehicle if the officer has “probable cause” to believe drugs or other contraband is in the car during a traffic stop. However, individuals do not necessarily have to agree to let their car be searched. Failure to consent does not mean guilt, and the officer must have a good reason for wanting to search your car. For example, if the officer detects a scent, observes red eyes, hears slurred speech, or sees contraband, this is enough to insist on a search under state law.
What Can You Be Charged With if Drugs are Found in Your Car?
If drugs are found in an individual’s car, they will most likely face one or more drug-related possession charges. In New Jersey, how severe the charges levied against you for possession of controlled substances are will depend on both the type and quantity of drugs found.
Type: Controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in New Jersey are categorized into five “Schedules” and are classified according to the potential risk for abuse. For instance, a Schedule I drug is considered to be the highest-risk substance for abuse; Schedule V is the lowest. Possession of a Schedule I CDS will come with more severe penalties due to its classification.
Amount: The higher the amount of drugs found in the car, the more serious the charge. A small quantity may result in a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) while larger quantities equate to a felony.
It’s also important to understand that the quantity of illegal or prescription drugs can also lead to an intent to distribute charge. The State of New Jersey assumes if you are in possession of or above a certain quantity of drugs, you planned to sell or otherwise distribute them. This can come with significant consequences if convicted.
What if the Drugs Found in the Car aren’t Yours?
This is a common situation, especially if you transport numerous passengers in your car when drugs are found. If any drugs are found by police, it’s entirely probable everyone in the car, including those in the back seat, will be arrested for some level of drug possession. Under state law, New Jersey recognizes two forms of possession – actual and constructive.
Actual possession means the officer found drugs on an individual. In contrast, construction possession has a lesser distinction, it assumes you had knowledge drugs were in the car and had an ability to exercise control over the drugs’ presence in the vehicle.
Keep in mind, even if you are arrested on an illegal drug charge, there are many defenses your attorney at Breslow Law Offices can use to have the charges dropped or reduced.
What to Do if You are Arrested for Drugs Found in Your Car?
If police find drugs in your car and you are arrested, it’s important to remain calm, even if you did nothing wrong and the drugs aren’t yours. By arguing or fighting with the arresting officers, you can quickly escalate the situation and find yourself getting charged with additional crimes. By remaining calm, it’ll benefit you in the long run.
Remember, under your Miranda Rights; you have the right to remain silent and to speak with an attorney. You do not have to answer any questions at the time of your arrest. However, you should cooperate with officers through the process until you can call our office and speak to a criminal defense attorney.
When Arrested for Drugs in Your Car in New Jersey Call Breslow Law Offices
If you’re facing a New Jersey drug offense, this can be frightening. People who are arrested in New Jersey for a drug possession charge need an experienced criminal defense attorney by their side to give them legal advice and to ensure they receive a fair trial. Attorneys Roy Breslow and Casey Breslow-Glugeth have more than 45 years of experience protecting New Jersey and have handled numerous drug possession cases with successful results.
As one of the oldest and most prominent firms in NJ, our law offices are consistently ranked as a top criminal defense law firm in New Jersey every year since 1978. If you find yourself in a situation where drugs were found in your car, we can help. Contact the Breslow Law Offices for a free consultation. Call us directly at 973-239-8000 for our Verona office or 609-494-8884 for our Long Beach Island Office to schedule your initial consultation.